Capitals vs. Lightning
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Verizon Center.
Records: Washington 11-4-0, Tampa Bay 8-4-2.
Going for six: After a 5-3 road victory over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night, the Capitals have won five consecutive games, the longest streak in the Eastern Conference and the team's lengthiest this season. Only one other team has won more than two games in a row in the East. During its run, Washington has scored at least five goals four times, including a 7-2 win against Calgary on Oct. 30 that began the current surge.
Laich on a tear: Brooks Laich has logged six points and a plus-six rating during the Capitals' winning streak. The veteran forward ended a nine-game goal-less streak Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, finishing with two goals - one on an empty-netter - and an assist. Laich leads the league with a plus-13 rating and has not had a minus game this season.
Back in the mix: The Capitals on Wednesday recalled Marcus Johansson from the minor league Hershey Bears after sending him down Nov. 6 for a conditioning stint. The rookie center, who suffered a hip-flexor injury Oct. 21 in Boston, finished with three shots and a plus-1 rating in two games with Hershey. Whether he'll crack the lineup in the midst of a winning streak, however, remains to be seen. "We're playing pretty good now, and he's healthy, so I don't know what we're going to do," Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau said Saturday. "It's quite a good luxury when you have really good players and they're battling for spots."
Scouting Stamkos: Lightning center Steven Stamkos continues to cement his standing among the league's most promising and productive players. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft scored twice in Tuesday's 4-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs to take the league lead the NHL in goals (13) and points (24). He's well on his way to surpassing his point total last season of 95. At his current pace, Stamkos, 20, would finish with roughly 140 points.
Missing some grit: Tampa Bay right wing Steve Downie (back) will not make the two-game trip to Washington and Pittsburgh. "It's not bad, he's much better today," Lightning Coach Guy Boucher told the St. Petersburg Times on Wednesday. "But he wouldn't play in the two games anyways, so keep him here, rest and have him back probably this weekend."
- Gene Wang