Caps look to rebound against Tampa
News and notes as the Capitals [20-16-6] visit the Tampa Bay Lightning [26-13-4] tonight at Tampa Bay Times Forum [7:30 p.m., CSN]:
Grubi back between the pipes: Rookie Philipp Grubauer [5-2-3, 2.20 GAA, .932 save percentage] will make his 11th start in 14 games for the Caps. Anders Lindback [4-8-1, 3.11 GAA, .882] is scheduled to get the call for the Lightning.
Carrick in, Oleksy out: Rookie defenseman Connor Carrick, recalled by the Caps on Wednesday, will see his first NHL action since Oct. 5 tonight when he plays alongside John Erskine on the Caps’ third pairing. Carrick last played on Jan. 2 in Malmo, Sweden when the U.S. men’s U-20 team lost to Russia in the World Junior Championships. He’ll replace Steve Oleksy, who will be a healthy scratch for the 10th time this season and the first time since Dec. 7.
Volpatti in, Erat out: In what could signal the beginning of the end to Marty Erat’s time in Washington, Aaron Volpatti will return to the fourth line, where he’ll play with Jay Beagle and Tom Wilson. Erat will be a healthy scratch for the first time since late November when he sat out three games from Nov. 23-29 after asking publicly requesting a trade. Calls to Erat’s agent, Michael Deutsch, were not immediately returned.
Steven who? Since leading scorer Steven Stamkos broke his leg on Nov. 11 in Boston the Lightning have gone 14-8-4 to remain in the hunt for the Atlantic Division title. While Marty St. Louis has done most of the grunt work with 12 goals during Stamkos’ absence, Valteri Filpulla has scored 11 goals in that same 26-game span. “They’ve really injected some new players in their lineup,” said Capitals coach Adam Oates, who worked one season in Tampa four years ago. “They have some core players and Marty obviously has been flying.”
Vengeance now: In his first game after being left off the Canadian Olympic team by his own general manager, Steve Yzerman, St. Louis scored two goals. He leads the Lightning in goals , assists  and points . “I was devastated for him because I care a lot about the guy,” Oates said. “He’s a fantastic player. I’m sure he was one of the guys they spent a lot of time [debating] on. I would imagine Steve and him have had numerous talks.”
Last time we met: The Caps rallied for a 6-5 shootout win against the Lightning on Dec. 10 in D.C. Alex Ovechkin matvhed his career high with four goals in that game. Nicklas Backstrom also matched a career high with five points.
Trending: The Caps have lost four in a row and seven of nine but have won four straight against the Lightning and are 6-3-1 against Tampa in their last 10 meetings. The Lightning have won three of their last four and eight of their last 11. The Lightning are 14-4-2 at home this season. The Caps are 7-8-4 on the road. The Caps are 12-0-2 when leaing after two periods; the Bolts are 16-1-0.
Daily special: The Caps rank second in the NHL on the power play [25.3 percent] and 17th on the penalty kill [80.5]; Tampa is 21st on the PP [16.7] and 15th on the PK [81.8].
Who’s hot: Tampa rookie Ondrej Palat is riding a seven-game point streak, longest in the NHL by a rookie, with three goals and seven assists. Marty St. Louis also has a seven-game point streak with seven goals and six assists.