The Lightning and the Capitals fought for first place in the SE most of last season and the same is likely to be the case this year. For both teams, their success hinges on their goaltending situation.

For the Washington Capitals, they started Michal Neuvirth on Saturday and he gave up three goals as the Caps had to dig out of a hole to get the win. As for Tampa Bay, they won’t be playing 42-year-old goaltender – he’ll be turning 43-years-old on Wednesday – in back-to-back scenarios and while he led them to a win in their season-opener, the Lightning fell the following night with Mathieu Garon in net. 

Alex OvechkinFour points separated the two teams last year, so don’t underestimate the importance of any meeting between these teams. 

The Tampa Bay Lightning can win because…: 

The Caps are still flawed. It might be considered overanalyzing their first game of the season, but there was no goal from Alexander Ovechkin, the defense still had flaws (as they allowed Carolina to tie the game with under a minute to go) and the goaltending is still shaky. And all of that came at home to a Carolina team that Tampa Bay stomped 5-1 on the road.

The Lightning proved to us down the stretch of last season that with a steady goaltender, they are going to be a Stanley Cup contender. Roloson – even at his age – has proved that he can be a viable solution, so the Lightning are no joke. 

They know very well how to solve this Caps team as they swept them out of the playoffs in four games in the second round last season. Overall, they are now 6-1-1 against the Caps in their last eight meetings. 

It’s true that the Lightning were handled by the Boston Bruins on Saturday but that’s not a venue where Tampa Bay has ever had much success. They are 5-26-9 there but they’ll fare much better at the Verizon Center as they know those digs much better. 

The Washington Capitals can win because…:

This is all about revenge. 

Washington is not known as a playoff team and last season’s choke came at the hands of the Lightning in the second round. But we’re not in the playoffs now, which means the Caps have a much better chance of winning this game. And plus, with revenge on their mind, they are going to be extra motivated.

Let’s not forget that as weak as Washington has looked in the playoffs over the last few years, they’ve been equally as strong in the regular season. They had more points than anyone else in the East last season and they’re favored to do it again. 

The Caps did a great job this offseason of adding depth to their team and that was evident in their first game of the season. 10 different players notched a point in their 4-3 win over Carolina and considering the Lightning are a tad thin on the blue line with Mathias Ohlund out, the Caps will be a handful. 

Outlook & NHL betting prediction: 

In NHL betting, picking a winner in this evenly-matched contest will be tough. These two teams are division rivals, so they know each other very well. Home-ice advantage won’t be much of one as both teams know the ins and outs of their opponent’s arena. 

But the over is worth a look. Four of the last six meetings overall have gone over as have three of the last four at the Verizon Center. For both teams, their strength is their offense and it should be on showcase once again as they gather for their first meeting of the season. 

Picking a winner is a coin flip; the over looks like the best bet in this contest. 

Pick: Over