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Rythm section; Tampa Bay Lightning at Washington Capitals

Five games in seven nights is in store for the Lightning in the coming days.

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Rob Carr/Getty Images

Where:  Verizon Center, Washington, District of Columbia
When: 7 PM EST | Tickets: Check availability
Media:  Sun Sports (cable) | 970 AM WFLA (radio) | Twitter Live Stream
Opponent Coverage: Japers' RinkRussian Machine Never Breaks

This is where things get a little dicey leading to the end of 2014.  There are only nine games left in the year (including New Years Eve in Buffalo) but the trip in hand mimics what the Lightning went through in western Canada in October: five games in seven nights. That's right, holiday shoppers, the Bolts have a pair of back-to-back affairs in the days ahead, and the opponents are not pushovers by name or reputation. It's a Metro Division gauntlet to run through and while two of the five opponents have mixed / lowly records at the moment (the Philadelphia Flyers and the New Jersey Devils)...  Well, the other three are in playoff position.  In fact, coming up one of said-three opponents will be playing out their season series with the Lightning in the next 10 games: The Pittsburgh Penguins.

First thing first though, before the back-to-back games, before bus trips instead of plane flights, the Lightning square off for the second time this week with the Capitals. This time around, it's Tampa Bay doing the visiting.

Tuesday's game didn't exactly end in the fashion the Lightning would want, especially the goals-by-both-teams-in-the-final-three-seconds aspect. On the other hand, the Capitals enter this game on the same down note the Bolts had when the two teams last met: wounds are being licked after a loss to Union Army HC. In fact, lowly Columbus has resurrected their season to get within striking distance of the Flyers and the Devils in the Metro.

It's worth noting for Tampa Bay that left wing Ondrej Palat is doubtful for tonight's endeavor. He is expected to be back during this road trip, though. There was no morning skate today, which brings into question line-combos and such, but with Jon Cooper's habit of keeping things static when there's success (read: a win), expect the same lines and defensive pairings tonight as we saw against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. That translates into Valtteri Filppula on top-line left wing, Alex Killorn on 2nd line left wing with Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov, Jonathan Drouin on the third line and Btendan Morrow holding down the fort on the fourth.

I have my doubts Evgeni Nabokov starts this game. Just a hunch; I've heard this Bishop kid is good at the goalie.

The Lightning power play... Well, Kyle already pointed out general special teams failings a few days back and the power play unit in the standings has been sinking since before then. Tampa's man-advantage effectiveness had been a high earlier in the season but is now ranked 7th overall in the league with a 22.6% conversion rate. The Capitals, on the other hand, are really damned good: 27.5% of their power plays lead to scoring. On the other hand, their penalty kill is as ineffective as their power play is effective - opponents are converting on 1/3rd of power play opportunities which ranks them 27th in the league. While the Lightning's penalty kill isn't a lynch pin by any sort, the 80.6% kill efficiency is a damn sight better... But can that ratio stand up to the bombardment from the Caps power play?  We'll find out.

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