Series (Game 5 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

Capitals 5

(28-15-10, 66 pts)

Lightning 2

(32-16-5, 69 pts)

7:30 PM ET, February 4, 2011

Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida

1 2 3 T
WSH 1 2 25
TB 1 1 02

N. Backstrom (Capitals - C): Goals: 2, Assists: 2

A. Ovechkin (Capitals - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 3

S. Gagne (Lightning - LW): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

Capitals-Lightning Preview


Stellar goaltending has keyed Tampa Bay's longest winning streak of the season.

The Washington Capitals know firsthand how tough it can be to score against the Lightning.

After shutting out their last two opponents, the Lightning try for a seventh consecutive victory when they try to blank the visiting Caps for a third straight time Friday night.

With veteran Dwayne Roloson in net, Tampa Bay (32-15-5) outscored Toronto and Philadelphia 6-0 the last two games. Neither Roloson nor the Lightning have ever posted three consecutive shutouts.

Achieving either feat, though, does not seem to be of major importance to Roloson and his teammates. The club is trying to win seven in a row for the first time since an eight-game run Feb. 23-March 6, 2004, during its Stanley Cup championship season.

The Lightning have outscored their last four opponents 15-2. A 4-0 win over the Eastern Conference-leading Flyers on Tuesday further solidified Tampa Bay's standing as a serious Cup contender after the club missed the playoffs the last three seasons.

"I think it's one of those things, you cherish the moment, but at the same time we've got to forget about it," Roloson said. "We've got another big game on Friday against Washington."

With five points separating first-place Tampa Bay from Washington (27-15-10) in the Southeast Division, this contest could be more pivotal for the Capitals, who have totaled three goals while losing their last three.

Washington was shut out in each of the last two meetings with Tampa Bay after totaling 12 goals to win the teams' previous two matchups this season.

The Capitals have not been blanked three consecutive games by the same opponent since the New York Islanders did it between Nov. 29, 1996-March 2, 1997.

Roloson stopped 57 shots in the two victories over the Caps last month.

The 41-year-old has allowed five goals during a five-game winning streak. All four of his shutouts this season have come since being acquired from the Islanders on New Year's Day.

"I don't think it's a roll," Roloson said. "I just think that the team is playing great. I'm fortunate enough to be making the best of an opportunity."

Steven Stamkos scored his league-leading 39th goal Tuesday as the Lighting won for the 11th time in 13 home games.

Stamkos has eight goals in his last eight games, but has managed one against Washington this season and none in the last three meetings.

Tampa Bay went 0 for 14 on the power play over the last three games against the Capitals, and could find it tough to break through with the man advantage again Friday.

Washington has killed off its last 24 penalties, but despite denying six against Montreal, blew an early two-goal lead and lost 3-2 in a shootout Tuesday.

"At this time of year, we can't afford to just be good for 20 minutes," said forward Mathieu Perreault, who had a goal and an assist. "It's got to be 60 minutes. Playoffs are coming up and those are points we need if we want to get a good spot for the playoffs."

Capitals star Alex Ovechkin has gone three games without a point since recording a hat trick at Toronto on Jan. 22. He has a goal with four assists versus Tampa Bay this season.


Research Notes

From Elias: Steven Stamkos became the 6th player to reach 100 career NHL goals before turning 21 years old in December. With 2 games remaining before his birthday, Stamkos will likely remain 4th all-time for most goals in the NHL before turning 21 unless he can score 9 goals and catch Dale Hawerchuk. Wayne Gretzky holds the all-time mark of 167 goals before turning 21.

ESPN Stats & Information