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Washington resurgence; Tampa Bay Lightning at Washington Capitals preview

Ben Bishop gets his second start in a row and Alex vechkin is hot on Steve Stamkos' trail for the Rocket Richard trophy.

Bruce Bennett

WHERE: Verizon Center, Washington, District of Columbia
WHEN: 7 PM EDT | | TICKETS: Check Availability
MEDIA: Sun Sports, RDS (cable), 970 WFLA (radio)
OPPONENT COVERAGE: Japers' Rink, Rock the Red

Ben Bishop gets the start in net tonight versus the Washington Capitals. No other lineup changes will be worked out until game time as the Bolts did not have a morning skate today (seeing they were playing last night against the Islanders).

While Jon Cooper is used to rallying his players for back-to-back games (seeing two and three games in a row are normal in the AHL), it's an enigma if he can get the same type of response from NHL veterans, or if his mastery can work in the face of a tougher level of competition in the NHL.

Honestly, the Lightning are playing for pride right now and pride alone despite Jon Cooper's vow to ruin Steve Yzerman's draft position. Washington and Winnipeg are in a horse race to win the division title, tied at 40 points apiece. There is no consolation playoff position for second place in the southeast - it's currently Winnipeg and the 9th seed in the East, outside the playoff picture behind the majority of the Northeast and Atlantic divisions.

In a way, Realignment is a plus for all five Southeast Division team next season and beyond because it forces them to raise their game. Mediocrity might help you vie for a playoff spot in the Southeast Division, but it's simply an assurance of a draft lottery pick among the Northeast and Atlantic Division teams.

Adam Oates has got the Capitals power play clicking - it's ranked #1 overall in the National Hockey League with a 25.6% efficiency. And don't look now, but Alex Ovechkin is back - he has 23 goals now, after a hat-trick last night which ties him for second in the Rocket Richard race with the Isles John Tavares. His 41 points this season also puts him among the league leaders - though behind the likes of Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis... For now, at least. The Capitals are going places, the three aforementioned players? Not so much. Playing for pride (St. Louis and Stamkos) and out injured (Crosby) makes the Art Ross trophy a distinct possibility for Ovi on his resurgent Caps team.

On the plus side is that , like the Lightning, the Capitals are going into this game having played last night - putting down the lowly Florida Panthers.

Other Previews

Tampa Bay Lightning official team preview

Full game coverage on SB Nation

Tickets -- Check Availability