WASHINGTON – Tomas Vokoun will make his eighth straight start tonight as the Capitals (22-17-2) continue their four-game homestand against the Tampa Bay Lightning (17-21-4).
The Caps have won five straight at Verizon Center and own the second best home record in the Eastern Conference at 15-5-1.
Nicklas Backstrom will miss his fourth straight game after taking an elbow to the head from then-Calgary Flame Rene Bourque Jan. 3.
Mike Green will also miss his third straight game after aggravating his previously injured groin last Saturday in San Jose. Green has missed 25 of the past 27 games and was placed on LTIR yesterday. He is not eligible to return until Feb.1 at the earliest.
With Green placed on LTIR, prospect Cody Eakin was recalled from AHL Hershey and will be in the lineup tonight against Tampa Bay. Eakin has three goals and six points in 19 NHL games this season.
Defenseman Tomas Kundratek is also expected back in Washington’s lineup after making his NHL debut in Wednesday’s 1-0 win against Pittsburgh.
The Capitals and Lightning will meet five times in the second half of the season and have not met since Oct.10, a 6-5 shootout win for the Caps.
The top two teams in the Southeast Division a year ago enter play Friday fighting for a playoff position. The Caps begin the day tied for eighth place in the Eastern Conference, eight points clear of the 13th place Lightning.
The Lightning are still seeking their first win of 2012, having dropped five straight (0-4-1) since a 5-2 win over Carolina on New Year’s Eve.
Steven Stamkos remains the NHL’s goal-scoring leader with 29 tallies in 42 games, but the Bolts have allowed a league-worst 3.40 goals per game.
PROJECTED CAPS LINEUP:
Alex Ovechkin – Marcus Johansson – Alexander Semin