News and notes as the Capitals [22-17-2, 46 points] prepare for their 7:08 p.m. puck drop against the Tampa Bay Lightning [17-21-2, 36 points] at Verizon Center [6:30 Caps Central, CSN]:
What it means: With a win tonight the Caps can extend their Southeast Division lead over the Winnipeg Jets to four points with six games to play for each team. The Jets are off until Tuesday night.
“It’s a battle of attrition right now in our conference and division,” defenseman Mike Green said. “There’s no room for error, no room to lose hockey games right now. This gives us an opportunity to just play the game and not be checking between periods on whether teams are winning or losing. This game is even bigger than [Thursday night’s 3-1 win over Carolina].”
Streakers: The Caps have won six straight, with each game decided by one or two goals. They are now 10-1-1 in their last 12 and 20-9-1 since beginning the season 2-8-1. The Lightning ran off to a 6-1-0 start under Buy Boucher, but are 9-20-2 since then, including 3-3-1 under new coach Jon Cooper, who interviewed for the vacant Caps job last summer.
Name that line: The Caps’ top line of Alex Ovechkin [16-6-22], Nicklas Backstrom [3-18-21] and Marcus Johansson [3-12-15] has combined for 22 goals since being united on March 17 against Buffalo. We’re still looking for a catchy nickname. The best so far is the JOB Employment Line. How about the Euramazing Line?
Ovi vs. Stammer: Tonight’s game features the NHL’s goal-scoring leaders Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos each have 26 goals. Stamkos has played in one fewer game. Stamkos won the Maurice ‘Rocket” Richard trophy in 2010 and 2012. Ovechkin won it in 2008 and 2009.
Holtbeast: Braden Holtby [18-11-1] is expected to face Ben Bishop 10-8-0] tonight.
On second thought: The Caps have scored two or more goals in the second period in four straight games and in five of their last six.
Grass looking Greener: With nine goals, Caps defenseman Mike Green is just two behind Montreal’s P.K. Subban for the league lead among blue liners. Eight of Green’s nine goals have come at even strength.
Bolt bus: The caps are 13-1-1 in their last 15 home games against the Lightning.
All-timer: Tampa right wing Marty St. Louis ranks 97th on the NHL’s all-time scoring list with 902 points, six behind former Capitals defenseman Scott Stevens, who is 96th on the all-time list
Other milestones: Mike Ribeiro’s next point will be the 600th of his NHL career. Eric Ferh will be playing in his 300th NHL game tonight. Wojtek Wolski is one goal away from 100.
Tough road: The Lightning have lost three of their last four, including a 6-3 setback to the Penguins on Thursday night. Tonight marks the start of a four-game road trip.
Looking ahead: The Caps have their final two-day break of the season following tonight’s game. They return to action on Tuesday when they begin a stretch in which five of their final six games are against teams from the Northeast – Toronto, Ottawa [twice], Montreal and Boston.
Tonight's lineup: Here’s how the Caps lineup is expected to look tonight:
Marcus Johansson-Nicklas Backstrom-Alex Ovechkin
Martin Erat-Mike Ribeiro-Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera-Mathieu Perreault-Eric Fehr
Wojtek Wolski-Matt Hendricks-Jay Beagle
Karl Alzner - Mike
John Erskine-John Carlson
Jack Hillen-Steve Oleksy