Washington Capitals at Tampa Bay Lightning Preview January 31 2012

Tonight will be the first game for the Tampa Bay Lightning in a week, after coming off a break from the All-Star Game. The Lightning went into the break with a 4-game winning streak, and seek to hold on that win streak tonight against the Capitals at home.

Tonight’s match-up of the division rivals is the third game between the two teams, but the first to be played in Tampa since the 2011 Eastern Conference Semifinals. Washington won the first two games of the series at home, and three of the four remaining games will be played in Tampa.

Victor Hedman, Ryan Shannon, JT Wyman, and Tom Pyatt will be back in the line-up tonight after taking the All-Star break to heal from their injuries. This will be the first game in 13 games that Hedman will be on the ice after suffering a concussion. The Lightning have also recalled Pierre-Cedric Labrie from the Norfolk Admirals.

Going in to the game tonight, the Lightning’s record is 21 – 23 – 4, whereas the Capitals have a record of 26 – 19 – 3. Steven Stamkos has 16 goals and 6 assists in the last 19 games played. Stamkos also leads the league with 32 goals. Marty St. Louis has 3 goals and 18 assists over 16 games. Vinny Lecavalier has 8 goals and 10 assists in his last 15 games. Lecavalier is running on a 6-point streak, which is a season high.

The Capitals are currently leading the Southeast Division and have a 9 point edge of over the Lightning. If the Lightning sweep the last of the remaining match-ups, they could pull within 1 point of the divisions rivals.

The Lightning’s home record is about the same as Washington’s away record if you flip-flopped the numbers. At home the Lightning are 13 – 7 – 1, whereas the Capitals are 8 – 13 – 2 on the road. Hopefully the Lightning, with several players returning from injuries tonight, can pick up where they left off before the All-Star break and bring home another win and turn that 4-game win streak into a 5-game winning streak.