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Capitals' Carlson expected to return against Devils

Oshie doubtful with flu as Washington tries to move closer to Presidents' Trophy

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

CAPITALS (52-15-5) at DEVILS (36-31-7)

TV: 7 p.m. ET; CSN-DC, MSG, NHL.TV

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Washington Capitals can move closer to the second Presidents' Trophy in franchise history with a win against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Friday.

Capitals defenseman John Carlson is expected to return to the lineup after missing the past 13 games because of a lower-body injury. Right wing T.J. Oshie has the flu and is doubtful. Oshie is the second-leading scorer on Washington with a career-high 23 goals.

Neither the Capitals nor Devils held a morning skate Friday. Carlson was paired with Nate Schmidt and Oshie was absent at practice on Thursday. The Devils won 3-0 at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday.

The Capitals need three more points gained or lost by the Dallas Stars to clinch their first Presidents' Trophy since 2009-10 when they had 121 points. Washington has 109 points with 10 regular-season games remaining; the Stars have 97 points with seven games left. The Capitals also can sweep a season series against the Devils for the first time in franchise history and set a record for most road victories in a season. The Capitals are 24-9-3 on the road; they finished 24-10-7 in 2009-10.

Washington clinched the top seed into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference after a 4-2 victory at the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. They have won six straight against the Devils dating back to Dec. 6, 2014, including all three games this season by a combined 11-8.

The Devils have won five of the past seven but trail the Philadelphia Flyers by six points for the second wild card into the playoffs from the East with eight games remaining. The Flyers have a game in hand.

New Jersey has gotten a boost from rookie goaltender Scott Wedgewood, who will make his third straight start. Wedgewood has stopped 66 of 67 shots while winning his first two starts after being recalled from Albany of the American Hockey League on Saturday. Wedgewood made 39 saves against the Penguins.

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, the expected starter, is 9-3-1 with two shutouts, a 2.15 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in 13 games against New Jersey. He needs four wins to tie Martin Brodeur for the most in a season (48). Brodeur set the record in 2006-07.

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Justin Williams
Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Andre Burakovsky
Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson
Stanislav Galiev - Mike Richards - Daniel Winnik

Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen
Dmitry Orlov - Brooks Orpik
Nate Schmidt - John Carlson

Braden Holtby
Philipp Grubauer

Injured: T.J. Oshie (flu)
Scratched: Michael Latta, Mike Weber, Taylor Chorney

Joseph Blandisi - Adam Henrique - Devante Smith-Pelly
Reid Boucher - Travis Zajac - Kyle Palmieri
Sergey Kalinin - Blake Pietila - Mike Sislo
Bobby Farnham - Stephen Gionta - Tuomo Ruutu

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson
John Moore - Damon Severson
David Warsofsky - Vojtech Mozik

Scott Wedgewood
Keith Kinkaid

Scratched: Seth Helgeson
Injured: Cory Schneider (right knee), Jon Merrill (upper body), David Schlemko (upper body), Tyler Kennedy (lower body), Jacob Josefson (hand), Jordin Tootoo (upper body), Patrik Elias (right knee), Mike Cammalleri (right hand/wrist), Jiri Tlusty (right wrist)

Status report: Latta, Chorney, Weber, and Grubauer were the only players on the ice Friday morning with coach Barry Trotz. Holtby was doing drills with goalie coach Mitch Korn for a short period before leaving for the locker room.

Who's hot: Burakovsky has 12 goals and 26 points in the past 30 games. … Palmieri has five goals and nine points in the past eight games. Smith-Pelly has seven goals and 11 points in nine games.

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