Road woes

Vaclav Prospal is off to the best start of his 11-year career, but that still hasn't helped the Tampa Bay Lightning win a road game this season.

Prospal looks to continue his stellar offensive start and help the Lightning avoid opening with three straight road losses for the first time in seven years when they visit the slumping Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.

Prospal scored two goals in Tampa Bay's 6-2 win over Atlanta on Saturday, helping the Lightning (4-2-0) improve to 4-0-0 at home.

Tampa Bay has outscored its opponents 16-6 at the St. Pete Times Forum, but has been outscored 10-5 in losing its only two road games with Prospal posting two goals. The Lightning have not opened a season with three straight road losses since 2000-01.

Despite their road struggles, Prospal has gotten off to an outstanding start, recording three two-goal games and seven overall this season. Last season, he did not have any multigoal games and recorded just 14 goals in 82 games.

"He's playing honest, and good things are happening,'' Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said of Prospal, who had two goals and four assists in eight games against the Capitals last season.

The Lightning went 6-2-0 against Washington in 2006-07, winning three of four at the Verizon Center. Martin St. Louis had six goals and six assists against Washington in the season series.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Washington -122 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 6 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 54% of bets for this game have been placed on Washington -122 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

Vincent Lecavalier had a goal and an assist against the Thrashers to give him four goals and four assists this season. Lecavalier had a league-leading 52 goals in 2006-07, recording nine goals and seven assists against the Capitals, both season highs against any opponent.

Goaltender Johan Holmqvist made 18 saves on Saturday, improving to 4-1-0 with a 2.61 goals-against average this season. In his two road starts, though, he has stopped just 31 of 39 shots, posting a 5.84 GAA.

Holmqvist was 3-2-0 with a 3.78 GAA against the Capitals last season, and 1-1-0 with a 4.24 GAA in Washington.

The Capitals (3-4-0) opened with three straight wins for the first time since 2002-03 - the last time they reached the playoffs - but have since dropped four in a row.

Washington fell to Pittsburgh 2-1 on Saturday, and has been outscored 17-7 during its skid. Alex Ovechkin was held without a point for the first time this season despite a season-high eight shots on goal.

"I have a couple great shots,'' said Ovechkin, who has four goals and two assists, "but just missed the net.''

Ovechkin had four goals and five assists against the Lightning last season, giving him nine goals and 10 assists in 16 career games against them.

Olaf Kolzig was rested on Saturday, and has allowed eight goals in his last two starts after yielding just one goal in his first two. Kolzig went just 2-4-0 with a 3.88 GAA against the Lightning in 2006-07, and is 22-13-2 with a 2.64 GAA all-time against them.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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