The New York Islanders take on the Washington Capitals on Saturday night at Capital One Arena at 7 p.m. Watch on MSG+, MSG GO or NHL.TV. Listen live on 88.7FM WRHU, 103.9FM LI News or online at radio.com/islanders. Read the game preview. Check the game notes.
Valtteri Filppula will return to the Islanders lineup after missing eight games with a hyperextended elbow. Johnny Boychuk is likely to return to the lineup after sitting out Thursday's contest. Robin Lehner was the first goalie off the ice at morning skate, suggesting he could start the regular season finale.
Video: Morning Skate Update 4/6: Valtteri Filppula
Valtteri Filppula was originally projected to miss four weeks when he suffered a hyperextended elbow on March 19. By returning to the lineup on Saturday, Filppula is ahead of the projected timeline.
"I'm definitely happy it didn't take as long as we thought in the beginning," Filppula said. "It's nice to get one game in and get back to playing again. Nothing is going to compare to playoffs, but nice to get skating again and playing."
Filppula's return is a boon to the Isles lineup, as it allows Leo Komarov to shift back to his natural position on the wing after playing the last four games at center.
"It's a little bit of a comfort zone for us. Leo has done a fabulous job, going in that center ice role. That's an area where we are a bit lean. The blessing is that Leo's done it and if it happens to anyone else we know Leo can do it."
Filppula has 29 points (15G, 14A) in 71 games this season.
Video: Morning Skate Update 4/6: Barry Trotz
PLAYING FOR HOME ICE:
Home-ice advantage is on the line for the Islanders on Saturday, giving the team something to play for in game 82.
One point does the trick, as the Isles can clinch home ice for the first time since 1988. If both the Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins lose on Saturday, the Isles can also clinch home ice.
"To be able to play for something is good for us and will help us go into playoffs," Matt Martin said. "We want home-ice advantage so we have to be ready to go tonight."
The Islanders will find out their playoff opponent on Saturday. Here are the scenarios:
If the Pittsburgh Penguins earn a point against the New York Rangers, the Isles will play Pittsburgh.
If the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Philadelphia Flyers and the Penguins lose to the Rangers, the Isles will play Carolina.
Video: Morning Skate Update 4/6: Johnny Boychuk
GREISS AND LEHNER GO FOR THE JENNINGS:
Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss are in the driver's seat for the William M. Jennings Trophy, given annually to the goalie(s) who allow the fewest goals in the regular season.
The Islanders as a team have allowed a league-low 196 goals against this season (including shootout winners). Dallas is second with 202 allowed. Only Greiss and Lehner are eligible for the award, as they've both surpassed the 25-game minimum requirement.
Trotz said while the trophy is awarded to the goaltenders, he sees it as a team accomplishment.
"It's a team award," Trotz said. "They recognize it. They've been the backbone, but at the same time they recognize that guys are blocking shots, they are paying the price keeping pucks out of the net as hard as they are. The goaltenders recognize it's always a team award."
Roland Melanson and Billy Smith are the only Islanders to win the Jennings, sharing the award in 1983.
Video: Morning Skate Update 4/6: Matt Martin
CAPITALS RESTING PLAYERS:
With the Metropolitan Division title locked up, the Washington Capitals are resting Nicklas Backstrom, TJ Oshie and John Carlson for Saturday's game. Phoenix Copley will start in goal.
CAPITALS PROJECTED LINES:
Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Carl Hagelin - Lars Eller - Brett Connolly
Jakub Vrank - Travis Boyd - Dmitrij Jaskin
Andre Burakovsky - Nic Dowd - Chandler Stephenson
Dmitri Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos
Jonas Siegenthaler - Nick Jensen