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Game Preview: Islanders at Capitals

The Islanders take on their Metropolitan Division rivals in Washington

by Cory Wright WrightsWay / New York Islanders

New York Islanders at Washington Capitals

7 p.m. Verizon Center


Radio: WMCA 570 AM, 88.7 FM WRHU, WRCN LI News 103.9 FM

5 Things: 

1. Jason Chimera Returns to Washington:

Odds are pretty good that Jason Chimera will receive a nice tribute when the Islanders visit the Washington Capitals on Saturday night. 

Chimera spent seven seasons with the Capitals, becoming a fan favorite through a combination of charisma, hustle and on-ice success. He's the type of player who b-lines right to the net and scores a goal off his head on the ice - and gets goofy when on the team's snapchat off the ice. That type of player is usually revered by the fans. 

"Any time you play in a place, or play in your hometown, it's always special," Chimera said on Friday at Northwell Health Ice Center. "But this will be businesslike, we need a win there badly. It's an important game for us so it'll be all business when we get there."

Chimera's already made one return to Washington in the preseason, which alleviates some of the pressure of seeing old teammates and close friends. With no points on the line and a preseason crowd in the stands, it was more of a soft opening. The intensity of the game and the emotions from the fans will be turned up on Saturday. 

"You say hi to a lot of people, you see all the people, joke around a bit and you can do that in preseason," Chimera said. "But this is a game we need and it's important to still have fun, but it's businesslike."

2. Islanders Looking to Bounce Back: 

The Islanders lost 5-3 in their season opener against the New York Rangers, but are taking positives out of the season-opening experience. 

Jack Capuano pointed out that both teams ended the night with 24 even strength shots, while Casey Cizikas and Jason Chimera lauded the team's barnstorming start to the third period. 

"The way we came out in the third period, down 2-0 on the road, I thought we showed a lot of grit and a lot of what this team has as a group," Cizikas said. 

"You knock a little rust off in the first game and keep on getting better each game," Chimera said. "It was a good show of will power to get back in the game and we have to build off of that."

3.   Mathew Barzal Will Make Debut: 

After skating as an extra and being a healthy scratch in the season opener, Mathew Barzal was back in the fold on Friday's practice, skating on a line with Ryan Strome and Anders Lee. That means it's highly likely that the 2015 first-round pick will make his NHL debut on Saturday night in Washington. 

"We have these young kids here and we have three games in four days," head coach Jack Capuano said. "We want to give guys an opportunity, so we wanted to see how he looked on the power play here today and we'll go over it and make our decision." 

Barzal, a natural center, will play in the middle on Saturday skating between Anders Lee and Ryan Strome.

Fellow 2015 first-round pick Anthony Beauvillier skated as an extra forward on Friday after making his NHL debut on Thursday against the Rangers. 

4. Islanders vs. Capitals:

Per Eric Hornick's The Skinny:

The Islanders head to DC to face the Capitals in the first of five meetings between the teams this season.

This will be the first matchup since last April 5th, when Thomas Hickey's overtime goal clinched a playoff berth for the Islanders for the second straight season.

These games are usually quite close; 11 of the last 20 regular season matchups have gone to overtime.

5. Capitals Notes:

The Washington Capitals are 0-0-1 to start the season after falling 3-2 in a shootout to the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

The Capitals are the reigning Presidents' Trophy winners - the league's top regular season team - coming off a 56-win, 120 point campaign last year. The core of the team is largely the same, with Alex Ovechkin - coming off an NHL-best 50 goals last season - Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov all returning, along with reigning Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby. 

"They're a solid team, a one through four lineup," former Capital Jason Chimera said. "They have good D and obviously with Holtby, he's a Vezina guy. But same with [Rangers goalie Henrik] Lundqvist, you have to get pucks and bodies in front of him and get after him that way. It's no secret the way we play, we have to get pucks deep and get on them. They have a good lineup and we have to be at our best to beat them."

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