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Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning preview: It feels really good to be back

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It’s been a long four months, but Bolts hockey is back.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images

Washington Capitals at Tampa Bay Lightning: Round Robin Game 1

Time: 4:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Scotiabank Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: NBCSN, SN360, NHL TV, TVAS

Opponent SBNation Site: Japers’ Rink

Preview:

NHL hockey has been back for a couple of days now, but the Tampa Bay Lightning had to wait a little longer than most to get back into game action. Tonight, they’ll face off against the Washington Capitals in Game 1 of their round robin.

If their one exhibition game against the Florida Panthers was any indication, the Bolts should be raring to go tonight. Their top line of Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov combined for 10 points and the team cruised to a shutout win. The Bolts will need those three firing on all cylinders as the status of captain Steven Stamkos remains up in the air — though if all goes well, he should be in the lineup tonight.

Though Victor Hedman didn’t depart with the team to the Toronto bubble, he joined the team over the weekend and is expected to play tonight. He’ll either play with Zach Bogosian or Jan Rutta, who may still not be 100% as he returns from an injury. The Capitals could be without top defenseman John Carlson tonight, as he was injured in exhibition play and is day-to-day.

Washington will rely on Braden Holtby to get them through the playoffs, as backup Ilya Samsonov is out with an injury. Andrei Vasilevskiy is expected to start all three round robin games for the Lightning.

Tampa Bay lost all three meetings with Washington this season, twice in regulation and once in overtime. Round robin wins will be critical for the Lightning, as their first-round playoff opponent will be determined by how they finish amongst the other three round robin teams.

Lightning hockey is back. Here’s hoping they put on a good show.

Washington Capitals

Forward Lines

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson

Jakub Vrana - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie

Carl Hagelin - Lars Eller - Ilya Kovalchuk

Richard Panik - Nic Dowd - Garnet Hathaway

Travis Boyd

Defense Pairings

Michal Kempny - Dmitry Orlov

Brenden Dillon - Radko Gudas

Jonas Siegenthaler - Nick Jensen

Injured: John Carlson

Goaltenders

Braden Holtby

Vitek Vanacek

Injured: Ilya Samsonov

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos

Blake Coleman - Tyler Johnson - Barclay Goodrow

Patrick Maroon - Yanni Gourde - Cedric Paquette

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta

Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk

Braydon Coburn - Luke Schenn

Zach Bogosian

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney