Five wins in seven games has the Washington Capitals back in the playoff picture.
A season high-tying losing streak, and according to head coach Guy Boucher Tampa Bay's worst loss of the year, has the Lightning fading in the Eastern Conference.
The Caps look to deal the Bolts a sixth straight setback this evening and close the gap even further in the Southeast Division.
Washington snapped a two-game slide on Wednesday with a 1-0 win over Pittsburgh, moving into a tie with the Penguins for the eighth spot in the East with 46 points. Tomas Vokoun made 30 saves for his second shutout of the season and 46th of his career, while Jason Chimera potted the only goal.
"I didn't think one goal would be enough, but it turned out to be enough. We'll take it," said Chimera.
Washington moved to 13-0-0 when leading after two periods and is now within four points of Florida for the top spot in the division. The Panthers host the Penguins this evening.
In winning the opener of a four-game homestand, the Capitals have taken their last four games as the host and have killed off 26 straight penalties over their last 10 home games.
The Lightning have also been a solid club at home this season, but dropped a 5-2 decision to the visiting Hurricanes last night. It marked the third time this year that Tampa Bay has dropped five games in a row and it will look to avoid suffering six straight defeats for the first time since Dec. 7-17, 2009.
The Bolts yielded four goals in the first period last night and got tallies from Nate Thompson and Teddy Purcell. Mathieu Garon was pulled after giving up three goals on eight shots in less than 20 minutes of action. Dwayne Roloson was touched for two goals on 24 shots in relief.
"I would say that this is the hardest [loss] to take this year," Boucher admitted. "We always talk about attitude first, work ethic and discipline. In the first period, we had none of those."
Tampa Bay has also lost five in a row on the road and brings a 6-15-3 road record into this meeting.
Washington notched a 6-5 shootout win over visiting Tampa Bay on Oct. 10 for its third straight victory in this series and sixth in the past eight. Chimera scored twice in the victory and both Matt Hendricks and Alexander Semin tallied in the shootout.
The Lightning have dropped three of four and 10 of their last 12 in Washington.