Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Washington Capitals: Game Preview

The Tampa Bay Lightning looks to extend its winning streak to five when it faces the Washington Capitals at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Tuesday night.

The Tampa Bay Lightning (21-23-4) is getting back to the ice after the All-Star break and is currently riding a four-game win streak. Tampa Bay sits in the twelfth spot in the Eastern Conference and is nine points out of the last playoff spot. Things won't get any easier for the Lightning, who face their Southeast Division foe, the Washington Capitals. The Capitals are 2-0 against the Lightning this season but have not played at the Tampa Bay Times Forum since losing to the Lightning in games three and four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Both teams at a glance:

Tampa Bay Lightning

In Tampa Bay's four-game win streak, it went 1-for-13 on the power play and that's certainly an area the Lightning can improve upon.Special teams have definitely been a concern for Tampa Bay all season long. It will be interesting to see if Guy Boucher will continue to play five forwards on the man-advantage.

Also a season long question mark is the Lightning's first period play. If Tampa Bay expects to beat Washington, it must come ready to play from the first face-off to the last.

The Lightning is still a bit injured but defensemen Victor Hedman, who missed 13 games with a concussion, will be in the lineup against Washington. Ryan Shannon and Tom Pyatt will also return from injury on Tuesday. It is still unclear whether Ryan Malone and Marc-Andre Bergeron will return against Washington or not.

Even though the Lightning still remain one of the conference's bottom-dwellers, it's still very possible for the team to string together a few wins and get right back in the mix. Be as pessimistic as you want to be, but they are not mathematically eliminated yet. Time might be running out, but there is still time left.

Everyone remembers what happened with the Carolina Hurricanes last season right? Their season came down to their last game of the season, which was against the Lightning. If Carolina beat the Lightning, the Hurricanes would have gone to the playoffs. The Lightning can turn its season around, especially if the team continues to get healthy and stays healthy.

Washington Capitals:

Although the Washington Capitals are leading the Southeast division with 55 points (with the Florida Panthers not far behind) there are some things this team isn't doing that they did last season under Bruce Boudreau. Scoring is down but the Capitals are still ranked among the top ten teams in the league in scoring, netting an average of 2.8 goals per game.

Tomas Vokoun will presumably be in net against the Lightning and has brought the Capitals consistency between the pipes all season long. Vokoun has played in 35 games and has 20 wins so far this season. He has posted a solid .916 save percentage and has a 2.56 goals against average with two shutouts.

Alexander Ovechkin will not be in the lineup Tuesday in Tampa. He is not eligible to return from suspension until Saturday when the Capitals face the Canadiens.

Injury report: Tampa Bay: Malone (upper body), Bergeron (upper body), Dana Tyrell (knee), Mattias Ohlund (knees) currently on the Injured Reserve. Washington: Niklas Backstrom (head injury), Mike Green (abdominal surgery)

Who's hot: Tampa Bay: Both Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier are on six-game point streaks. St. Louis has two goals and eight assists while Lecavalier has tallied three goals and seven assists.

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WHEN: Jan. 31 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Tampa Bay Times Forum Tampa, Fl.

MEDIA: NBC Sports Network (T.V.), 620 WDAE (radio)

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