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PREVIEW: Devils at Capitals

Devils continue their final set of games before the all-star break and bye week

by Chris Wescott and Marc Ciampa / NewJerseyDevils.com

The New Jersey Devils visit the Washington Capitals tonight for the second time in under a week. 

Video: DEVILS:60 | Devils Back In Washington

You can watch the game on MSG+ 2 or listen on the Devils Hockey Network. 

INSIDE THE DEVILS

Devils news and notes from the past few days. 

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE DEVILS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

WASHINGTON, DC - The Devils could get Jack Hughes back in the lineup tonight as they take on the Capitals in D.C. The rookie forward left the game in Toronto due to illness but was back on the ice this morning after the off day yesterday.

"Yeah, it was obviously helpful," said Hughes. "I feel better. So it was good to have the day off and kind of just lay in bed and try to try to sleep a little bit."

Should Hughes play, he likely slots in between Pavel Zacha and Wayne Simmonds.

Kevin Rooney is also a game-time decision with an illness.

NEW TOP LINE

With Kyle Palmieri still on the mend back in Jersey, the top line is in a bit of a blender. In searching for the right combination, Interim Head Coach Alain Nasreddine has elevated Miles Wood to that spot with Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt.

"Obviously, his speed is a factor," said Nasreddine. "If you look at his last few games, he's been effective using that speed. He's good on the forecheck, he'll get over pucks, create stops, so I think that's an element that will benefit Nico and Bratter."

"Just stick to what I'm doing," Wood said of the opportunity. The only reason why I'm there is because Nas and the coaches see something that I'm doing that could possibly help them.

"So just stick to what I'm doing, play my game. Of course, they're skilled and stuff like that but that shouldn't change me and how I approach this game."

DOMINGUE GETS THE CALL

Despite being pulled in Toronto, Louis Domingue has the trust of his coach to go back out there against a dangerous Capitals team. He had a great performance in the last game in D.C., backstopping the Devils to a victory.

"I like to give guys an opportunity to bounce back," said Nasreddine. "And he had played well the previous two games… and last time we played Washington, he had a strong game and he handles the puck well, which is a plus when you face a pretty good forechecking team like Washington."

PROJECTED LINEUP

Wood-Hischier-Bratt

Coleman-Zajac-Gusev

Zacha-Hughes-Simmonds

Boqvist-(Rooney Game-Time Decision)-Hayden

 

Greene-Subban

Severson-Vatanen

Butcher-Mueller/Carrick

Domingue

Schneider

-- Chris Wescott, NewJerseyDevils.com

PREVIEW

DEVILS (0-2-2) at CAPITALS (3-1-0)

TV: 7:00 p.m. ET; Televised on MSG+ 2

Head-to-Head:

Tonight's game is the third of four meetings between the two teams this season. 

Washington defeated the Devils 6-3 at Prudential Center back on December 20 and just this past Saturday, the Devils stunned the Caps with a 5-1 win. 

Devils team scope:

The Devils had two huge wins this past weekend in back-to-back games, defeating the Washington Capitals followed by the Tampa Bay Lightning. At the time, the Capitals were first overall in the entire NHL while the Lightning had a 10-game winning streak. 

The result wasn't quite so good for the Devils on Tuesday as they kicked off this three-game road trip with a 7-4 loss to Toronto. They did narrow a 6-1 gap to 6-4 but that was as close as they'd get. 

Blake Coleman had a hat trick in that game, giving him 18 now on the season in 46 games. He's just four shy of his career high which is 22 set last season in 78 games. 

Capitals team scope:

The Capitals have struggled a little bit lately by their standards. After losing only four of their first 31 games, they've gone 9-7-0 in their last 16. As a result, they've fallen from top spot in the NHL and are now a point behind the St. Louis Blues. 

Defenseman and New Jersey native John Carlson leads the Caps in scoring with 56 points in 47 games. Carlson leads all NHL blueliners in points, 10 points ahead of Roman Josi who's in second. Carlson also has 12 more points than Alex Ovechkin, who's second on the team with 44 points. Ovechkin does lead the Caps in goals with 28, however. 

By the Numbers:

Coleman now has two shorthanded goals on the season, just one off the NHL lead which is shared by five players. 

Over their last 16 games, the Devils have matched the Capitals point for point at 8-6-2 (18 points). 

The Caps are 18-1-3 when scoring first in a game this season and 25-0-4 when leading or tied after two periods. The Devils by contrast are 8-5-6 when scoring first and 15-5-7 when leading or tied after 40 minutes. 

Injury Updates:

Devils - Ben Street (upper body) is out; Kyle Palmieri (lower body) is day-to-day; Mackenzie Blackwood (upper body) is day-to-day

Capitals - No injuries to report

-- Marc Ciampa, NewJerseyDevils.com

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