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 faces rebound test against Washington Capitals

WASHINGTON — The story line for the Lightning in its game tonight with the Capitals at the Verizon Center was supposed to be simple: Can it hang with its primary Southeast Division foe?

But after Saturday's 4-1 loss to the Bruins in which Tampa Bay was thoroughly dominated, a game that was supposed to determine how the Lightning measures up now is about proving it can stand up.

"We will see," Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said, "if we're a bounce-back team."

The way Boucher sees it, the Lightning was at a disadvantage in Boston because it was playing the second of back-to-back road games while the Bruins had Friday off.

Tampa Bay still is in a tough spot, playing a third game in four nights right out of preseason, but the team did not practice Sunday.

"So, we will have no excuses," Boucher said. "This will be an important one to see how we play. I'm not talking win or lose. We're still at Washington. They're still the No. 1-ranked team in our conference, so it's going to be another difficult one. But we should be better. With a day off, we should be better than that."

Even without that overlay, the game promises to be emotional.

As the Lightning has improved, the teams have built up a healthy rivalry. This also is their first meeting since Tampa Bay swept the Capitals out of the Eastern Conference semifinals. There is no doubt Washington, which has won four straight division titles, would love to, as Lightning center Steven Stamkos said, "make a statement that they mean business this year."

"We owe them a good game," Capitals defenseman Mike Green told the Washington Post. "They, obviously, took us down last year in four and that's something you don't forget. Doesn't mean we're gunning out there for anybody, just means we're going to play our hardest game and make sure we challenge them."

The Lightning wouldn't mind making a point, either.

"You're always trying to establish your game and the type of game you're going to bring to the table every night," defenseman Eric Brewer said. "So, when you play a team six times and they're a perennial favorite every year, you have to make sure they know you're for real."

The focus for both teams is on their top players. Tampa Bay's top six did not give the team what it needed against the Bruins, Boucher said. And Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, after the team disappointed again in the postseason, apparently vowed to owner Ted Leonsis he will be more committed to training and video work.

In other words, both teams, and individual players, have something to prove.

"They're a very good team, and the last time we saw them they beat us four times in a row," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It should be an interesting game."

"For sure their guys will be extremely motivated," Boucher said. "They're an outstanding team, so just trying to keep up with them, we're going to have our hands full. One thing is for sure, it's going to be great hockey."

Simple.

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

.TONIGHT

Lightning at Capitals

When/where: 7; Verizon Center, Washington

TV/radio: Versus; 970-AM

Key stats: G Dwayne Roloson is 8-5-4 in 17 games vs. the Capitals with a 2.11 goals-against average, .923 save percentage and four shutouts. … Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin had two goals, 10 points last season vs. Tampa Bay and has 26 goals, 60 points in 48 games vs. the Lightning overall. … G Tomas Vokoun is 11-7-2 with a tie in 23 games vs. Tampa Bay with a 2.60 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage.

Tampa Bay Lightning faces rebound test against Washington Capitals 10/09/11 [Last modified: Sunday, October 9, 2011 8:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Ryan Callahan encouraged by his return

    Blogs

    Captain Steven Stamkos wasn't the only key Lightning player to make a triumphant return Friday night against Nashville.

  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Friday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb hates to hear how he "battled through" or "grinded out" a start rather than just dominated, but that's kind of what he did Friday, allowing nine hits and a walk and being charged with two wild pitches but only three runs in earning his 12th win.

  3. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.
  4. Rays journal: Alex Cobb may have pitched last game in Rays uniform (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Alex Cobb pitched well enough to lead the Rays to an 8-3 win over the Orioles on Friday.

    Wilson Ramos gives thanks after hitting a grand slam during the second inning, putting the Rays up 4-0.
  5. Ww's Odessabeach makes run at Husker Magic stakes final

    Parimutuels

    ST. PETERSBURG — When Hurricane Irma blew through Florida earlier this month, Ww's Odessabeach remained in her comfort zone.