CAPS GAME DAY--GAME 76: Playoff-Bound Caps Host Bolts

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, March 27, 2009 | , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals (45-23-7-97, first in Southeast, T-2 in East), having clinched a playoff spot earlier in the week, host the Tampa Bay Lightning (24-33-17-65, fifth in Southeast), playing out the string in a long, frustrating season.

The Caps are tied with the New Jersey Devils for the second seed in the Eastern Conference behind Boston, but the Devils have two games in hand over Washington. New Jersey plays at Chicago tonight.

Alex Ovechkin scored his 50th goal of the season against Tampa last week, and set off a media firestorm with his celebration, a pre-planned display where he laid his stick on the ice and fanned it, as if it were aflame. Several of the Lightning spoke up about it after the game, but cooler heads have prevailed since.

"There should be no retribution at all. He scored his 50th goal in a 0-0 game. It wasn't 8-0 where he made a mockery," Boudreau said. "If Tampa scores a couple of goals and wants to do a celebration, go for it. It's a done deal as far as I'm concerned, and that's it."

Washington is looking for their tenth consecutive victory over the Lightning.

The Capitals will be missing several key players as well, with Alexander Semin most likely joining Donald Brashear and Boyd Gordon in the press box for tonight's game. Semin has been dealing with the flu for the better part of a week, and he participated in the morning skate.

But the team recalled two forwards, Keith Aucoin and Oskar Osala, from AHL Hershey, to be available for the matchup with Tampa Bay. Also, Jeff Schultz appears to be the odd man out on the blue line tonight.

Jose Theodore will start in goal for Washington.

Tampa is led by Martin St. Louis (28-46-74, plus-6) and Vincent Lecavalier (29-38-67, minus-7). They are one of the lowest scoring teams in the league, in 23rd place in the league in goals, but only nine goals separate them from the last place Islanders.

Mike Smith (14-18-16, 2.62, .916) is Tampa's regular goalie, is out with a concussion. Karri Ramo and Mike McKenna are the backups

WAS: PP-2nd (24.5%, 74/302); PK-21st (79.8%, 72/357)
TBY: PP-17th (18.8%, 58/308); PK-22nd (79.4%, 74/360)

WAS: C Boyd Gordon (Finger-IR); G Brent Johnson (Hip-IR); RW Chris Clark (Wrist-IR); LW Donald Brashear (Knee-Questionable); LW Quintin Laing (Spleen-Out); RW Alexander Semin (Flu-Questionable

TBY: D Marek Malik (Lower body-Out); D Cory Murphy (Foot-Out); G Mike Smith (Concussion-IR); D Andrej Meszaros (Arm-IR); D Paul Ranger (Undisclosed-IR)