Capitals vs. Lightning Preview: March 16, 2019
The Washington Capitals for the first time this season head down to Tampa to play the Tampa Bay Lightning on their home ice. The last time the teams met was in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Caps shut out the Lightning 4-0 to win their first conference title in two decades. They went on to win the first Stanley Cup in team history afterward. Tampa is still a strong team though behind Nikita Kucherov, Stephen Stamkos, and Andrei Vasilevskiy in net, having reached the Conference Final three of the last four years, and the Cup Final as recently as 2015.
The Lightning have 112 points overall this season, having already clinched their division, the Presidents’ Trophy, and one of the best regular-season records of all time at 54-13-4. All of this could lead to hubris and a decline in play, but they have not slowed down. Nikita Kucherov has 115-points so far, the first player to reach that total at this point since Sidney Crosby in 2008-09.
On the other side, the Capitals are still doing well. with 91 points, they still have a three-point lead over the New York Islanders. Alexander Ovechkin with 46 goals is on-track to win his record eighth Rocket Richard Trophy. He already has 1,201 total points. They keys to the game come from key scorers Lars Eller (11g, 22a) and Tom Wilson (20g, 16a). Goaltender Braden Holtby also boosted his save percentage to .909. Which will be needed against the Lightning, whose 277 goals lead the league in scoring.
This is the first meeting between the teams this season. The Caps and Bolts will play each other three times over the next fifteen days. The Lightning will be playing with a chip on their shoulders. They look for revenge after the Conference Final. The Caps need to play strong and keep Kucherov under control to win. Game starts at 7:00 p.m.