Capitals, Lightning hope to reverse fortunes
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Lightning return home licking the wounds of a winless three-game road trip, faced with the task of facing a frustrated Washington Capitals squad on Saturday.
Tampa Bay enters Saturday's meeting having lost four consecutive games and has allowed four or more goals in four consecutive games for the first time under head coach Jon Cooper.
The Capitals are coming off back-to-back regulation losses for the second time this season after being shut out by the New York Islanders on Thursday.
For the Capitals, facing a Lightning team struggling to keep the puck out of the net might seem to be the right remedy for an offense that has scored two goals in the past two games and for a power play that went 0-for-6 against New York, five coming when the game was scorless.
"We'll just keep trying," Washington head coach Barry Trotz told NHL.com. "We'll maybe look for some tip plays. We'll look for that type of thing if they're going to get in the lanes. We're going to have to adjust, no question."
Some of those adjustments were made ahead of Saturday's game as John Carlsson and Marcus Johansson moved back up to the first power play unit, Evgeny Kuznetsov was dropped to the second unit while former 2014 first-round draft pick Jakub Vrana, who made his NHL debut on Thursday, worked with the second power play unit, according to the Washington Post.
"Sometimes I think when you don't have the results that you're looking for and you're used to having good success, which this group is, maybe you start trying to pick the corner a little bit too much rather than shooting for the second opportunity," defenseman Matt Niskanen told NHL.com. "We've been talking about a few things and we'll keep at it here."
The Capitals remain without forward T.J. Oshie, who is out with a shoulder injury. Though he took part in practice on Friday, Oshie did not travel with the team to Tampa and will miss his sixth consecutive game. Paul Carrey, who was recalled from AHL Hershey on Wednesday but missed the game due to illness, is expected to be in the lineup against the Lightning.
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, is looking to solve its defensive zone issues that have crept in to its game during the four-game slide while the penalty kill allowed three goals to St. Louis.
The 19 goals allowed by the Lightning are the most in a four-game stretch since Cooper took over behind the bench. Tampa Bay has also allowed four-or-more goals in four consecutive games since Feb. 7-14, 2013, a month before Cooper took over for Guy Boucher.
"I know people are frustrated with us but we're more frustrated than anybody," center Tyler Johnson said. "We expect more of ourselves. We expect to win. We've got to do the little things to do that."
Tampa Bay showed signs of snapping out of it in Thursday's loss at the Blues despite the setback. The Lightning fell behind 2-0, 4-1 and 5-3 to pull to within a goal on three occasions.
"I thought we played well enough to get points, and that's kind of how you come out of these things," Cooper said. "Sometimes you don't get the points, and maybe next game we will."