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Caps host Lightning in clash between former division rivals
(SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of former divisional foes will meet for the first time this season, as the Washington Capitals welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning for Tuesday's clash at Verizon Center.
The Capitals and Lightning used to battle for Southeast Division supremacy, but the onset of realignment this season broke up the now-defunct division. Washington is now a member of the Metropolitan Division, while the Bolts are in the Atlantic.
The Eastern Conference foes will meet three times this season, beginning with tonight's encounter in D.C. Washington claimed the final three of four meetings in last season's series and the Caps have won five straight and 16 of the past 19 matchups in the nation's capital.
Washington enters Tuesday's clash with wins in two straight and four of its last five games. The Caps won tilts on back-to-back days over the weekend, notching a 5-2 win over visiting Nashville on Saturday before posting a 4-1 road victory the following night against the New York Rangers.
Philipp Grubauer made 30 saves for his first NHL win in Sunday's decision against the Rangers. Grubauer, who was making his second NHL start and fourth appearance, had seven saves in the first period, 10 in the second and closed out Washington's win at Madison Square Garden with 13 stops in the third.
The German rookie was working on a shutout until Benoit Pouliot deflected Michael Del Zotto's shot from the high left side for New York's only goal with 1:53 remaining in the game. The play was reviewed because Pouliot's stick was up, but it was upheld as a goal.
"I've got to give those guys in front of me a lot of credit," Grubauer said. "I feel like (the Rangers) didn't have many chances right in front of the net. They kept them pretty much to the outside, which was great for me."
Jason Chimera, Steve Oleksy. Mikhail Grabovski and Eric Fehr scored for the Capitals, with Grabovski's goal coming on a penalty shot.
The Lightning have lost three of their last four games and were dealt a 2-1 overtime loss by Winnipeg in their most recent game on Saturday.
Tampa's lone goal on Saturday came with two seconds left in the second period, as Nate Thompson scored off a faceoff to tie the game at 1-1. The next goal was a game-winning tally by Mark Scheifele, who beat Lightning goaltender Anders Lindback from in close just 64 seconds into overtime.
Moments before Scheifele's decisive tally, Tampa's Alex Killorn hit the post on a breakaway.
"There was a clear distinction between the first 30 minutes and the last 30 minutes," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said after Saturday's loss. "In the last 30 minutes we got everybody involved, we were shooting pucks from everywhere and we had ample chances to win in regulation and one chance in overtime and we didn't."
Beginning with Tuesday's tilt in D.C., the Lightning are playing four of their next five games on the road. Tampa is just 6-7-1 as the guest this season compared to an 11-3-1 mark at home.
Ben Bishop expects to get the start in net for Tampa tonight and is 0-2-0 with a 4.41 goals against average in three career games against the Capitals.
Braden Holtby is 3-1-0 with a 3.69 GAA in four lifetime outings against the Lightning and is in line to get the start for Washington on Tuesday.
12/10 11:20:56 ET