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Posted at 03:29 PM ET, 01/13/2012

Capitals’ homestand provides key opportunity

For all of Washington’s struggles on the road this season, Verizon Center has been quite hospitable. The Capitals are 15-5-1 at home this year, fifth best in the league.

On this current four-game homestand the Capitals have a little extra working in their favor than just the friendly confines of their arena. Each of the teams they face during this stretch — Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Carolina and the New York Islanders — will be playing in the second of back-to-back games when they reach Washington.

Not to mention that the Lightning, Hurricanes and Islanders are 13th, 14th and 15th place in the Eastern Conference. It might be a perfect opportunity for Washington to accumulate a handful of points and move up the standings before venturing back out on the road.

That the opponents are in “the bottom of the conference, we’re not worried about because we’re getting close to there and we’ve got to find our way out of there,” Troy Brouwer said. “But the home games are very important. You have to win the majority of your games to be successful. . . . Because we’re struggling there we have to make sure we’re getting points and winning games at home.”

Entering tonight’s game, the Lightning trail Washington by eight points and the team would prefer to keep the Southeast Division foe firmly behind them. Tampa Bay has also lost five straight, including four defeats in regulation.

“When their confidence is down you’ve got to get that first goal and try to put it to them right away,” Jason Chimera said. “They got a good team, they’re still dangerous they’re just struggling a bit to find their way in like we were earlier and we kind of found it lately. We’ve got to come out hard and keep the pedal to the metal.”

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