Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Lightning can measure progress against Washington Capitals

WASHINGTON — Intellectually, Lightning players know tonight's game with the Capitals is about the process.

Stick to the game plan, take away time and space, stay out of the penalty box and do not, as happened in two previous losses at the Verizon Center, try to match Washington's skill.

"So, if we lose 2-1 and we're ourselves and play hard, we will have advanced," coach Guy Boucher said.

But a matchup like this, between the Southeast's top two teams, is played with the heart as well as the head. And as much solace as Tampa Bay might take from a game well played, at some point that just isn't enough.

At some point, the Lightning simply has to beat the Capitals.

"Yeah, absolutely," right wing Steve Downie said. "I mean, they've handed it to us twice this year. We have some pride. It's a hard building to go in and win, but we're capable of doing it. It would be a big confidence boost."

The Lightning (23-11-5) has come a long way from the doormat it was the past three seasons, and its 51 points are tied with Washington atop the division.

Still, there is a stamp of legitimacy that would come with beating the Capitals, who won the division title the past three seasons while going 16-4-0 against the Lightning.

This season hasn't been much better as Washington, playing every bit the neighborhood bully, beat Tampa Bay 6-3 and 6-0 to remind the new kids on the block to watch where they step.

"Everything is confidence," goaltender Dwayne Roloson said. "Once you beat a team, it's like, 'Yeah, we can play with these guys.' "

The Lightning certainly is in a better position to do that.

Downie should be back after missing 13 games with a high ankle sprain. Left wing Simon Gagne missed the first two meetings with Washington because of injury, and Roloson will make his first start since he was acquired Saturday from the Islanders for minor-league defenseman Ty Wishart.

Roloson, 41, shined for lowly New York; his 6-13-1 record belied a 2.64 goals-against average and .916 save percentage. In his last five starts, he was 4-1-0 with a 2.54 goals-against average and .936 save percentage.

"I try not to put any extra pressure on myself," Roloson said. "I try to control the things I can control and give my guys a chance to win. If I do that, that's great."

Bottom line, Boucher said, "I feel we have more tools in the toolbox. But if you leave the toolbox at home, you will have trouble working."

As the Lightning has done against the Capitals this season because "we didn't play our game," Boucher said. "We played their game. … They're a skill team that likes the open ice. That's not us. Our skill guys tried to play like their skill guys and to see 'my father is stronger than yours' type of thing."

Not surprising, really, for an up-and-coming team trying to solidify a niche among the league's elite.

"We want to make sure we play our game," Boucher said. "It's how we're going to process being ourselves. Then we'll see what happens with it."

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com.

Hot goaltender

Newly acquired Dwayne Roloson will make his debut for the Lightning tonight against the Capitals. In his last five starts for the Islanders, he was 4-1-0 with a 2.54 goals-against average and .936 save percentage.

Opponent Shots Saves Result

Red Wings 41 38 W (OT), 4-3

Rangers 52 45 L, 7-2

Canadiens 39 38 W, 4-1

Devils 35 34 W, 5-1

Lightning 35 34W (OT), 2-1

.Tonight

Lightning at Capitals

When/where: 7; Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.

TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

Key stats: Lightning C Steven Stamkos has 10 goals, 16 points in his past 11 games. … Tampa Bay is on an 8-1-1 streak. … The Capitals are on a 5-0-1 streak in which they have allowed just nine goals. … Six of C Alexander Semin's 18 goals have come against the Lightning. … The Capitals power play is on a 3-for-36 streak.

Tampa Bay Lightning can measure progress against Washington Capitals 01/03/11 [Last modified: Monday, January 3, 2011 11:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jordan Spieth wins British Open (w/ video)

    Golf

    SOUTHPORT, England — Someday, perhaps soon, there will be a plaque at Royal Birkdale for Jordan Spieth, much like the one off the 16th hole that celebrates Arnold Palmer and the 6-iron he slashed out of the rough in 1961 to win the British Open and usher in a new era of golf.

    Matt Kuchar plays out of the bunker on the 18th hole and finishes with bogey for 1-under 69. He had a one-shot lead after 13 holes.
  2. Fennelly: Brutal weekend could be start of something worse for Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Well, that was lovely.

    Brad Boxberger suffers his second loss in the three-game series, this time by allowing back-to-back homers in the eighth inning when called on to protect a 5-3 lead. “Just bad pitches,” he says.
  3. Wesley Chapel hockey camp impresses youth players, parents

    Lightning Strikes

    WESLEY CHAPEL — As a 17-year-old Triple-A hockey player, MacCallum Brown regularly plays against elite talent. As a Palm Harbor resident, he often has to travel to face that talent.

  4. Rays journal: Rays gamble on Sergio Romo's track record, heart

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Some of RHP Sergio Romo's numbers this season with the Dodgers were the worst of his career, yet the Rays feel he can be a good fit for their bullpen.

    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26:  Sergio Romo #54 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch in the 9th inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on June 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
  5. Rays claim not to be panicking after third straight brutal loss to Rangers (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — There was no "here we go again" moment in the dugout as Rougned Odor's two-run homer in the eighth inning arced across Tropicana Field and toward the rightfield seats, even though when it landed, the score was tied and another late-inning Rays lead was blown.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria heads back to the dugout after fouling out in the ninth inning with the potential tying run on first.