ARLINGTON, Va. --
The Washington Capitals
seek a return to the top eight in the Eastern Conference on Friday as they continue their season-long five-game homestand against the New Jersey Devils
After consecutive wins against the Montreal Canadiens
, Toronto Maple Leafs
and New York Islanders
, the competition gets stiffer this weekend with the Devils' visit tonight and the Philadelphia Flyers
in town Sunday (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
"It’s a challenge for us," Capitals forward Joel Ward
said of the weekend ahead. "Obviously if you win outright, you can advance and move up in the standings as much as you can. We've had some success at home, so we just have to keep building on that."
The Caps have the second-best home record in the Eastern Conference (21-7-2), but they enter play tonight in ninth place in the conference, one point behind eighth-place Winnipeg and six points behind seventh place New Jersey.
Washington also is within three points of the Southeast Division-leading Florida Panthers
The Devils will look to snap a four-game winless streak (0-3-1), following last night's 4-3 overtime loss in Boston. The last time New Jersey went winless in five straight was a six-game skid from Dec. 17-29, 2011.
(9-9-3) will make his fourth straight start for the Capitals while Johan Hedberg
(13-7-2) is expected to start for the Devils. Martin Brodeur
played last night in Boston, his ninth straight start.
"They had an overtime loss last night," Caps forward Matt Hendricks
said of the Devils, "so they're going to try to take it to us early and then play defense for the rest of the game. So we need to get on them, force them into penalties and not allow them many chances."
The Devils did not skate this morning while all but four Capitals (Alexander Semin
, Brooks Laich
, Marcus Johansson
and Dennis Wideman
) took part in an optional skate.
Capitals coach Dale Hunter
said all four players will play tonight. Veterans Roman Hamrlik
and Mike Knuble
will be healthy scratches for the fifth and fourth straight games respectively.
Here are the projected lineups for tonight’s game:
- Marcus Johansson
- Keith Aucoin
- Mathieu Perreault
- Alexander Semin
- Brooks Laich
- Troy Brouwer
- Jeff Halpern
- Joel Ward
- John Carlson
- Mike Green
- Dennis Wideman
will start in goal, with Tomas Vokoun
- Adam Henrique
- Ilya Kovalchuk
- Patrick Elias - Dainius Zubrus
- Jacob Josefson
- David Clarkson
- Ryan Carter
- Steve Bernier
- Andy Greene
- Anton Volchenkov
- Bryce Salvador
will get the start in goal, with Martin Brodeur
Sykora will play his 999th NHL game tonight.