The Capitals hope to start their Christmas break off right with a win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Here are three bold predictions for Friday's game (CSN, 7 p.m.).
1. Jakub Vrana, Lars Eller and Andre Burakovsky will combine for five points
Why is having a productive third line so dangerous? Because opponents focus primarily on shutting down a team's top two lines. Generating consistent offense from a third line demonstrates a level of depth few teams can boast. Pittsburgh's now infamous HBK line (Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel) was the key to the Penguins' championship run last season. The Caps look like they may have found something with their Vrana, Eller, Burakovsky line. While the Lightning are working to shut down Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Bcakstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie, etc., look for the third line to have a big night.
2. Tampa Bay will outshoot the Caps by at least five shots on goal in the first period
The Lightning will be playing their second game in as many nights while the Caps had a day to rest. That would suggest a better start for Washington. Tampa, however, knows that. On the road, playing the second game of a back-to-back, a good start will be key for the Lightning and they will look to avoid an early deficit.
3. Jonathan Drouin will score a goal
With the litany of injuries Tampa has experienced, they needed someone to step up. That person has been Jonathan Drouin who has four goals in his last three games and 13 points in his last nine. He will stay hot with a goal in Washington on Friday.