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At the Rink blog

Defenseman Diaz returns for Canadiens

Saturday, 04.20.2013 / 1:32 PM

By Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com / 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens will have defenseman Raphael Diaz back in the lineup when they face the Washington Capitals in a key battle for Stanley Cup Playoff positioning Saturday at Bell Centre.

Diaz has missed 25 games with a concussion; he was a key member of Montreal’s defense prior to the injury, playing 20:36 per game. With Alexei Emelin’s season-ending knee injury throwing the Canadiens defense pairings into a state of flux, Diaz’s return is a welcome boost.

In 19 games this season, Diaz has a goal and 12 assists, with seven of his 13 points coming on the power play, where he could help Montreal’s second unit.

The Capitals will be going with the same lineup that lost 3-1 at Ottawa Senators on Thursday, one still missing Brooks Laich (groin) and Joel Ward (knee contusion). By the time the puck drops, the Capitals will know the result of the game between the Winnipeg Jets and the New York Islanders. The Jets began the day two points behind the Capitals in the race for the Southeast Division.

“We’re all scoreboard watching, obviously, and the game’s earlier than ours so it makes it difficult,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “But our job is to play hockey. The guys are going to go to sleep focusing on the game tonight. No matter the outcome of that game, we’ve got to play our game tonight.”

The goaltending matchup pits Braden Holtby for the Capitals against Carey Price for the Canadiens.

Here are the projected lineups for each team:

CAPITALS

Marcus JohanssonNicklas BackstromAlex Ovechkin

Martin EratMike RibeiroTroy Brouwer

Jason ChimeraMathieu PerreaultEric Fehr

Aaron VolpattiMatt HendricksJay Beagle

Karl AlznerMike Green

John ErskineJohn Carlson

Jack HillenSteve Oleksy

Braden Holtby

Michal Neuvirth

Scratched: Wojtek Wolski, Jeff Schultz

Injured: Brooks Laich (groin), Joel Ward (knee), Tom Poti (back)

CANADIENS

Max PaciorettyTomas PlekanecBrian Gionta

Rene BourqueDavid DesharnaisMichael Ryder

Alex GalchenyukLars EllerBrendan Gallagher

Travis MoenJeff HalpernBrandon Prust

Josh GorgesP.K. Subban

Andrei MarkovRaphael Diaz

Francis BouillonYannick Weber

Carey Price

Peter Budaj

Scratched: Mike Blunden, Davis Drewiske, Gabriel Dumont, Tomas Kaberle, Ryan White (suspended)

Injured: Colby Armstrong (knee), Alexei Emelin (knee)

Once again, it shows character in this dressing room. Once again, there's no quitting in here. We all wanted this so bad and we worked so hard to get home-ice advantage and we weren't going to let this one slide.

— Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog on his team's OT Game 1 win vs. Minnesota Wild