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Posted at 02:12 PM ET, 04/02/2012

Michal Neuvirth to start, will face Lightning for first time since 2011 playoffs


(Jonathan Newton - WASHINGTON POST)
It should come as little surprise that Michal Neuvirth will get the nod tonight in Tampa Bay after helping the Capitals earn consecutive shootout victories in their previous two contests.

This will mark the first time Neuvirth has faced the Lightning since they eliminated Washington in the second round of the playoffs last spring. Tomas Vokoun, who is out indefinitely with a strained groin muscle, appeared in each of the five previous contests against Tampa Bay this season.

The Lightning will go with Dwayne Roloson, who has had a rough year at 11-16-2 with a 3.76 goals-against average and .884 save percentage. In two appearances against the Capitals this season he is 0-1-1 having allowed eight goals on 62 shots for a 3.87 GAA and .871 save percentage.

Thanks to a flight delay I unfortunately didn’t make it to the Tampa Bay Times Forum in time for the skate, but here are a few more lineup notes and things to keep an eye on tonight.

— The Lightning plan to go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen tonight, which means one of the forwards will be getting double shifted. That someone will likely be Steven Stamkos, the NHL’s leading goal scorer (56), and the Capitals know they will need to be on their toes.

“Certainly the more ice time he’s going to get, the more opportunity he’s going to get,” Brooks Laich told reporters this morning. “He’s a very special player and we have to make sure we’re aware, whoever’s on the ice against him….Every line is probably going to play against him, so everybody’s got to be aware of him when he’s on the ice.”

Part of the problem when trying to defend Stamkos, Karl Alzner said, is that he has learned to adapt and take advantage of whatever space is available to score.

“All those high-level players, they go where they need to go in order to score. They don’t really stick to their wing or stick down the middle. It’s go where the puck is and go where you’re going to score a goal. It helps that he’s got some good linemates there, too, that set him up pretty good. It’s a whole combination of things that make him dangerous.”

— Washington’s line combinations will likely be the same as they were against Montreal (see below) with Jeff Schultz, Jeff Halpern, Joel Ward and Cody Eakin serving as healthy scratches.

Lines:
Ovechkin-Backstrom-Johansson
Chimera-Perreault-Semin
Aucoin-Laich-Brouwer
Hendricks-Beagle-Knuble

By  |  02:12 PM ET, 04/02/2012

 
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