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Posted On Friday, 05.10.2013 / 7:44 PM

By Ben Raby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Wilson replacing Erat in Capitals' lineup

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Prospect Tom Wilson is making his NHL debut for the Washington Capitals Friday in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers (NBCSN, TSN, RDS2).

The Capitals' first-round pick (No. 16) in the 2012 NHL Draft was recalled Thursday from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League and is skating on Washington's fourth line alongside Matt Hendricks and Jay Beagle in Game 5.

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Posted On Friday, 05.10.2013 / 2:19 PM

By Ben Raby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Hart honor nice, but Ovechkin focused on winning

ARLINGTON, Va. -- When the Washington Capitals were faced with a 10-point deficit in the Southeast Division standings in mid-March and were in danger of missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six years, Alex Ovechkin turned his season around.

Beginning March 14, Ovechkin had a League-high 23 goals and 36 points in the final 23 games of the regular season as the Capitals went 17-4-2 to clinch the division title.

Ovechkin's efforts were recognized Friday when he was named one of three finalists for the Hart Trophy, awarded annually to the "player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team." Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and John Tavares of the New York Islanders are the other finalists.

"It's nice and I'm sure I'm going to have time to celebrate later, but right now it's all about business and focus on the game," Ovechkin said as the Capitals prepared Friday for Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS2).

"It's big. It means like I'm still [a factor]," he said of his fourth career Hart Trophy nomination, his first since 2009-10. "It was a hard year, it was hard season for all of us, and I'm happy to be in that kind of position."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.09.2013 / 1:33 PM

By Ben Raby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Capitals' Erat to miss Game 5

ARLINGTON, Va. -- According to Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates, forward Martin Erat will not play in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers on Friday.

Erat left Game 4 on Wednesday with an upper-body injury with 1:34 remaining in the first period after a collision involving teammate Alex Ovechkin and Rangers forward Derek Stepan.

Erat was favoring his left forearm as he returned to the Capitals dressing room, and Oates said Thursday the team is awaiting results on an MRI exam.

Erat's injury means that the Capitals' lineup will have a different look for Game 5 at Verizon Center (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS2), but Oates would not confirm who will draw a sweater.

The first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series is even at two games apiece.

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Posted On Thursday, 05.02.2013 / 8:15 PM

By Ben Raby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Ward's return adds depth, experience for Capitals

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Forward Joel Ward returned to the Washington Capitals lineup Thursday for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the New York Rangers.

Ward missed the final nine games of the regular season with a knee injury he suffered after blocking a shot by Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Sami Salo on April 7.

"I get a chance to play," Ward said. "I'm excited, for sure, and I get to reunite with my buddies, so I'm pretty happy about that."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.30.2013 / 3:08 PM

By Ben Raby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Capitals hoping to have Ward back for opener

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Forward Joel Ward could return to the Washington Capitals' lineup for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, according to coach Adam Oates.

Ward missed the final nine games of the regular season with a left knee injury he suffered April 7 after blocking a shot from Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Sami Salo.

Ward is targeting a return for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Thursday against the New York Rangers and practiced with his teammates Tuesday for the second straight day.

"You know what, it was really encouraging that he took a full practice at full speed," Oates said. "He said he felt good. As long as there are no setbacks [Wednesday], yeah, I expect him."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.27.2013 / 12:36 PM

By Ben Raby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Flu sidelines Jagr, while Bruins remain without Horton

WASHINGTON -- The Boston Bruins will be without Jaromir Jagr on Saturday as they face the Washington Capitals in their next-to-last game of the regular-season.

Jagr remained in Boston with the flu while Nathan Horton will miss his third straight game with an upper-body injury. According to Bruins coach Claude Julien, both players are day-to-day.

Since joining the Bruins earlier this month in a trade with the Dallas Stars, Jagr has two goals and nine points in 11 games. He skated 14:30 in Boston's 2-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday -- his lowest time-on-ice since the trade.


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Posted On Saturday, 04.27.2013 / 11:43 AM

By Ben Raby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Holtby starts as Capitals seek momentum

ARLINGTON, Va. – Having already clinched the Southeast Division and No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, the goal for the Washington Capitals is to play a clean hockey game against the Boston Bruins on Saturday and build momentum heading into the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Goaltender Braden Holtby will start Washington’s regular-season finale after serving as Michal Neuvirth’s backup in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

"I talked to him, actually, about which game he would rather have, and in terms of rest, what's too much rest, how recent do you want to play," coach Adam Oates said. "I don't think there's any perfect formula. I don't think anybody's ever perfected that, but it makes sense to him to play [against Boston] and if we [open the playoffs] Tuesday or Wednesday, it's kind of a good rhythm because we've almost played every other day this year. It's been that kind of season."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 4:02 PM

By Ben Raby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Senators wowed by speed of Karlsson's return

WASHINGTON -- As the Ottawa Senators prepared Thursday to welcome Erik Karlsson back to the lineup for their game against the Washington Capitals, captain Daniel Alfredsson couldn't help but admire his 22-year-old teammate.

Karlsson has not played since Feb. 13, when the defenseman sustained a 70-percent tear to the Achilles tendon in his left leg during a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Karlsson underwent surgery the next day and was expected to miss four to six months. Instead, the reigning Norris Trophy winner will return exactly 10 weeks after the operation.

"He said the day after it happened, he had surgery, he said two months," Alfredsson said of Karlsson's timetable. "And we knew that was not possible. We never thought he would be able to come back unless we went really far in the playoffs. But he's been positive the whole time through and been encouraged by what he's been able to do and worked hard to get here. It's great to see."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 12:41 PM

By Ben Raby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Karlsson returns as Senators try to snap mini-slide

WASHINGTON – Defenseman Erik Karlsson will return to the Ottawa Senators lineup Thursday against the Washington Capitals.

The reigning Norris Trophy winner has not played since Feb. 13 when his Achilles tendon was sliced in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Karlsson underwent surgery Feb. 14 and was expected to miss four to six months. Instead, the 22-year-old will return exactly 10 weeks after the operation.

The Senators could clinch a second straight Stanley Cup Playoff berth as early as Thursday night with a win against the Capitals or a Winnipeg Jets’ regulation loss against the Montreal Canadiens.

Ottawa has lost two straight games since beating the Capitals 3-1 a week ago at ScotiaBank Place. The Senators have since been outscored 7-2 in back-to-back defeats by the Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Capitals’ loss in Ottawa last Thursday remains the club’s only blemish in a 10-1-0 month of April. Washington clinched the Southeast Division title and the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 5-3 win Tuesday against Winnipeg.

Here is Ottawa’s projected lineup for Thursday night:

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Posted On Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 11:10 AM

By Ben Raby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Neuvirth starting in net for Capitals

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Michal Neuvirth will make a rare start at Verizon Center on Thursday when the Washington Capitals host the Ottawa Senators (7 p.m. ET, TSN).

Neuvirth will make just his fifth start at home Thursday, and his second since Feb. 5.

Here is the rest of Washington's projected lineup:

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