“We had a good meeting (Sunday),” forward T.J. Oshie told The Washington Post. “I think we touched on a bunch of stuff, as far as mentality, how we want to play the game. … It was just more about how we want to play the game and how determined we want to play it.”
Off the ice Monday, the Capitals made a trade to aid their blue line, sending a 2018 third-round draft pick to Chicago for defenseman Michal Kempny, who could make his debut Tuesday night. The 27-year-old Kempny had one goal and six assists in 31 games with the Blackhawks this season.
Atlantic-Division leading Tampa Bay (39-17-3) is struggling a bit. The Lightning have lost three of four and their lead over surging Boston is down to one point.
While generating so many shots on goal, the Lightning allowed the Devils too many good scoring chances.
“If we’re not going to pay attention to our own net, give up odd-man rushes, it’s tough for (Vasilevskiy) to bail us out every night,” Stamkos told NHL.com. “There were a lot of positives, but they scored on the chances that we gave them for the most part tonight.”
The problem is not new and the Lightning have been spending extra time on defense in their recent practices.
“You’ve got to defend,” Lightning coach John Cooper told the Tampa Bay Times. “That’s it. You’ve got to defend.
“So often our goalie holds us in and masks some of the issues in the D zone we have. That’s the tough part, because they know (that). But we just have some guys in there that want to push for the next goal, push for the next goal, and oftentimes we just have to be a little bit more patient knowing with our group another (goal) will come at some point, but we just got to take care of our defending.”
Tampa Bay won the teams’ first meeting 4-3 in overtime on Oct. 9 as Brayden Point scored the winner after the Lightning rallied from a 3-1 deficit. T.J. Oshie scored twice for visiting Washington.
On Nov. 24 in Washington, the Capitals won 3-1 behind 25 saves from Grubauer.
Likely Washington starter Braden Holtby is 9-2-2 with a 2.65 goals-against average (GAA) and a .934 save percentage versus Tampa Bay. Ovechkin has torched the Lightning for 42 goals and 42 assists in 65 games.
Vasilevskiy is 1-4 with a 3.58 GAA and .892 save percentage against the Capitals.