Final OT

Series (Game 3 of 6)

Washington leads 4-2

Game 1: Thursday, November 11th
Game 2: Friday, November 26th
Game 3: Tuesday, January 4th
Game 4: Wednesday, January 12th
Game 5: Friday, February 4th
Game 6: Monday, March 7th

Lightning 1

(24-11-5, 53 pts)

Capitals 0

(23-12-6, 52 pts)

Coverage: RDS

7:00 PM ET, January 4, 2011

Verizon Center, Washington, District of Columbia

1 2 3 OT T
TB 0 0 0 11
WSH 0 0 0 00

D. Roloson (Lightning - G): Saves: 34, Save Pct.: 1.000

M. St. Louis (Lightning - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

S. Varlamov (Capitals - G): Saves: 37, Save Pct.: .974

Lightning-Capitals Preview


The Washington Capitals appear to have recovered from their well-documented struggles, winning three straight and picking up 11 points in their last six games.

They still might not be the hottest team in the Southeast Division.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have won eight of 10 to pull into a tie with the Capitals, who can reclaim sole possession of first place Tuesday night as they look to continue their dominance of the visiting Lightning.

Washington (23-12-5) lost eight straight games Dec. 2-18, with much of that slump taking place shortly after HBO began filming a documentary leading up to the Winter Classic on New Year's Day.

The Capitals have since begun to thrive under the spotlight. Washington knocked off the Penguins 3-1 at Heinz Field on Saturday in the much-anticipated outdoor clash, improving to 5-0-1 in its last six games.

"It was more than just a game to everybody," Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Don't let anybody fool you. It was a game that we wanted to show people that had never played hockey or watched hockey how good it can be, how exciting it can be.

"... "This is as close to the Stanley Cup as we've gotten and we're not denying that it was more than just two points."

The win gave Washington 51 points, the same total as Tampa Bay (23-11-5).

The Lightning picked up points 50 and 51 earlier Saturday evening, though the second point nearly slipped away. The New York Rangers' Marian Gaborik tied the score at 1 with 45 seconds left in regulation, but Nate Thompson scored 19 seconds into overtime to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 win.

"We deserved that game and our guys battled," rookie goaltender Cedrick Desjardins told the Lightning's official website. "That was just the kind of game you want, especially home games like that."

Desjardins, who beat Montreal in his NHL debut Thursday, was reassigned to Norfolk of the AHL on Sunday, a day after Tampa Bay acquired veteran goaltender Dwayne Roloson from the New York Islanders.

The Lightning aren't wasting any time getting Roloson between the pipes with Mike Smith banged up. The 13-year veteran will start Tuesday as Tampa Bay looks to avoid a 10th loss in 11 games at the Verizon Center.

"We made a trade because we think he's a very good goaltender," coach Guy Boucher said. "He's part of our team now and there's no use waiting. It's important that he gets accustomed to the team and vice versa."

Roloson is 3-2-3 with a 2.93 goals-against average versus Washington since October 2006.

The Lightning are 2-16-1 against their Southeast rivals since Bruce Boudreau took over behind the Caps bench in late 2007. They've looked particularly bad in two meetings this season -- both on the road. Washington's Alexander Semin had a hat trick in the third period of a 6-3 win Nov. 11, then scored three times in a span of 4:29 in the second period of a 6-0 victory Nov. 26.

Those two performances comprise one-third of Semin's 18 goals on the season. He hasn't found the back of the net in his last 12 contests.

Alex Ovechkin has just four goals in his past 22 games, but he's never struggled against the Lightning. The two-time Hart Trophy winner has 13 goals and 17 assists in his last 15 games in the series.

After shutting out NHL scoring leader Sidney Crosby on Saturday, Washington will try to do the same to Steven Stamkos. The league's second-leading scorer with 56 points, Stamkos has been held without a point in three of his last four against the Caps.