In the first game of a four-game homestand, the Washington Capitals faced a rival team enduring a disappointing season and playing in the second game of a back-to-back set. Friday, the Caps will welcome yet another rival team enduring a disappointing season and playing in the second game of a back-to-back set to Verizon Center as the Tampa Bay Lightning pay their second visit.
Wednesday, Washington defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 1-0 behind Jason Chimera's first period goal and Tomas Vokoun's 30-save shutout. The win vaulted the Caps over the Penguins and into the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has had a disappointing season so far after ending last season just one win away from the Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning lost to the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 Thursday, their fifth straight loss and seventh in their last 10. The only bright spot for Tampa Bay this season has been Steven Stamkos, who has a NHL-best 29 goals this season.
The Caps will have play Friday without Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green. The former was placed on injured reserve Wednesday to make room for Tomas Kundratek and can be activated at any time, while the latter was placed on long-term injured reserve to allow Cody Eakin to be recalled. Green, however, cannot be activated until February 1.
Coincidentally, the Lightning enter the Verizon Center in the same situation as the Penguins; they have lost four straight, while allowing five goals and pulling their goalie in their previous game.