The Isles have always played the Caps close. (Clydeorama)
The Washington Capitals are in Uniondale, New York, this afternoon to take on the Islanders as they play the first of two back-to-back games on the weekend. New York, who lost their last game against the Rangers on Thursday, are 10-11-3 and 4-4-2 over their last ten. Their record gives them 23 standings points and places them fourth in the Atlantic Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference, three points out of a playoff spot. The Caps, who have won three in a row and eight of 11, are 10-11-1 for 21 standings points, which places them third in the Southeast Division and 12th in the Conference.
Evgeni Nabokov is likely to start for the Isles this evening after making 35 saves on 37 shots during that losing effort against the Rangers earlier this week. Nabokov has posted a 2.92 GAA, .904 save percentage, and one shutout in his 20 starts. Outside the crease, the Isles will be only missing one player – defenseman Matt Carkner, who has lower body ailment. One of Jack Capuano’s assistants, however – Brent Thompson - has been suspended for abusing an official and will not be on the bench.
Adam Oates has kept his starting goaltender for this one a secret, and will perhaps look to give Phillipp Grubauer his first NHL start in order to give Braden Holtby a breather. Grubauer was great in his NHL debut, making a ton of saves against the Flyers in relief during the last game the Caps lost, but there’s no hotter goalie in the NHL right now than Holtby. On the injury front, goalie Michal Neuvirth is still sick and isn’t even on the trip, while forward Brooks Laich and defenseman Jack Hillen are still out. Center Marcus Johansson, absent for a month with a concussion, is on the trip and may play; it would be interesting to see who he would replace. Otherwise, the lineup will probably stay the same after such a dominant performance on Thursday night.
Puck drops early; a 1:09 start is in order. Check back later.
Harry Hawkings is a college student credentialed to cover the Capitals for RtR. Follow him on Twitter here for all your news needs this season.