The Washington Times - January 31, 2012, 01:43PM

TAMPA, Fla. | Karl Alzner remembers what it was like at the arena then known as St. Pete Times Forum on May 4. The Washington Capitals were about to get swept out of the second round of the playoffs by the Lightning.

I started thinking about it a little bit today and what it felt being here and kind of being cheered against and everyone kind of laughing at us and stuff,” Alzner said. “It wasn’t a very good feeling.”

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Because of that, Alzner admitted a little bit of extra incentive is involved in Tuesday night’s game, with the Caps back here for the first time since getting eliminated last spring.

You want to win here,” the defenseman said. “I know playoffs is a lot more important, but it would be nice to get a win here to feel a little more satisfied.”

Veteran Mike Knuble pointed out the large time gap since then – nine months. Since then, the Caps have gone through a bit of an offseason overhaul and the obviously the firing of Bruce Boudreau and hiring of Dale Hunter as coach.

It was a long time ago. I guess it popped into your mind maybe when you walked into the rink, but it was a long time ago,” Knuble said. “It’s always kind of a funny feeling, but a lot’s happened since then. We’re ready to keep moving on, but huge game tonight, huge game tomorrow.”

Knuble’s referring to the back-to-back Southeast Division games against the Lightning and Florida Panthers. Given how tight the race is, maybe Alzner’s thoughts about the playoffs aren’t too far off.

It’s a battle,” Hunter said. “Every game is like a playoff game now.”