Tampa Bay Lightning with key pivot game tonight against the Washington Capitals

The Capitals are one point ahead of Tampa for the final playoff spot
Dec 21, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) celebrates a
Dec 21, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) celebrates a / Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

After thrashing the St. Louis Blues and grinding out a win against the Vegas Golden Knights, the Tampa Bay Lightning will look to win three games in a row for just the second time this season as the Bolts take a quick road trip to face the Washington Capitals.

Tampa enters the night with a record of 16-13-5 and have 37 points through 34 games. They are currently on point behind Carolina, Washington, Florida, and Toronto, though all four of those teams have played fewer games than Tampa.

Who to watch on Washington

You probably have heard of this guy named Alex Ovechkin. With 828 career goals, Ovechkin is just 66 goals away from tying the all time record by Wayne Gretzky.

But "The Machine" is slowing down in 2023. After 42 goals last season, Ovechkin is one pace for just 16 goals in 2023/24. Ovechkin has never had less than 30 for a full season. It's not from a lack of shots as he is still averaging 3.8 shots per game, he just simply can't find the net. Ovechkin is currently sporting a 5.2% shooting percentage. Only once has he finished a season below 10%.

In many ways, it is a minor miracle Washington is even in the playoff hunt considering they are third worst in the NHL at goals per game. What has saved Washington this season is their goal tending. They have been alternating between Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren. Between the two of them, Washington has 10 goals saved above expected.

Vegas Says...

Despite the road woes and the team inconsistencies, Vegas likes Tampa in this game as -140 favorites. Washington is a +120 underdog.

The over/under is set at 6.5 goals. Tampa is 5-5 in their last ten games hitting the over while Washington is 3-6-1 at getting to the over.