(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Capitals will try to return to the win column when they welcome a former division rival to Verizon Center in Saturday's clash with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Caps and Lightning battled for years in the now defunct Southeast Division before the NHL's realignment plan instituted prior to last season ended the divisional rivalry. Washington is now a member of the Metropolitan Division while the Bolts joined the Atlantic.
Saturday's test is the third and final scheduled meeting between the clubs this season. Tampa claimed the first encounter on Nov. 1, notching a 4-3 regulation win on home ice, but Washington answered with Tuesday's 5-3 triumph in Central Florida. Alex Ovechkin scored twice for the Caps in the meeting earlier this week, and now has 37 goals and 37 assists over 56 career games against the Lightning.
Washington has won six of eight in this series overall. The Bolts snapped a six-game slide in D.C. with a 1-0 shootout win on April 13 of last season, but the Capitals are 17-2-2 in their last 21 home games against Tampa.
The Caps had matched a season-high winning streak with three straight victories before losing an overtime decision Thursday against visiting Columbus. Nick Foligno scored a power-play goal with 18.8 seconds left in the OT to lift the Blue Jackets to the 3-2 win.
Jason Chimera was whistled for interference in the extra session, putting the Blue Jackets on the man advantage at the 3:03 mark of OT. After Sergei Bobrovsky made two huge short-handed saves, Jack Johnson dished to Foligno for a one-timer from the right circle. The puck sailed over Braden Holtby's glove for the win.
Holtby stopped 20-of-23 shots and was outplayed by Bobrovsky, who needed to make 39 saves for the win.
"We created chances. We had a lot of traffic in front of them and (Bobrovsky) was still able to make saves," said Capitals defenseman Mike Green, who returned to the lineup after missing seven games with an upper-body injury.
Justin Peters could get the call in net tonight. He is 0-3-1 with a 4.20 goals against average in his career against Tampa. Holtby is 4-2-1 with a 3.41 GAA in this matchup.
Tampa halted a two-game slide its last time out by beating the visiting Carolina Hurricanes in dramatic fashion. Nikita Kucherov's marker with 30.3 seconds left in regulation broke a tie and delivered a 2-1 victory for the hosts.
Kucherov's second goal of the contest was a fluke deflection. He appeared to attempt a pass from the left circle, but the puck instead changed direction off the skate of Hurricanes defenseman Ron Hainsey in the slot and slid over the goal line.
Evgeni Nabokov turned away 29 pucks and picked up his first assist of the season for the Lightning. The win pushed the backup goaltender's record this season to 3-3-1.
"It was nice to see him get rewarded," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said of Nabokov. "He played great and gave us a chance to win."
Ben Bishop expects to be back in net tonight. He is 1-3-1 with a lifetime 4.13 GAA against Washington.
Ondrej Palat, who was a late scratch from Thursday's game against Carolina, is questionable for tonight's game due to a lower-body injury. The forward has eight goals and 11 assists this season.