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Capitals' Erat to miss Game 5

by Ben Raby /

ARLINGTON, Va. -- According to Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates, forward Martin Erat will not play in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers on Friday.

Erat left Game 4 on Wednesday with an upper-body injury with 1:34 remaining in the first period after a collision involving teammate Alex Ovechkin and Rangers forward Derek Stepan.

Erat was favoring his left forearm as he returned to the Capitals dressing room, and Oates said Thursday the team is awaiting results on an MRI exam.

Erat's injury means that the Capitals' lineup will have a different look for Game 5 at Verizon Center (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS2), but Oates would not confirm who will draw a sweater.

The first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series is even at two games apiece.

"We were just getting comfortable together," said Capitals forward Mike Ribeiro, Erat's linemate since the latter was traded to Washington from the Nashville Predators on April 3.

"Obviously it's an injury that hopefully won't drag too long. But I think before he got here we had good momentum with the guys we have here and the lines we had. There's always someone to step up to those places. That's how hockey is. Someone gets injured, someone has a chance to come up and do right.”

Erat had been skating on the Capitals' second line with Ribeiro and Troy Brouwer, but his absence means changes are coming for three of Washington's four units.

Based on how the Capitals finished Game 4, and supported by the line rushes at practice Thursday, Eric Fehr is expected to take Erat's spot alongside Ribeiro and Brouwer, and Joel Ward will take Fehr's spot on the third line with Jason Chimera and Mathieu Perreault.

The changes leave an open position on Washington's fourth line alongside Matt Hendricks and Jay Beagle.

Among the candidates to draw into the lineup are Aaron Volpatti and Wojtek Wolski -- healthy scratches for Games 1-4 -- or right wings Joey Crabb and Tom Wilson, who were recalled Thursday from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League.

Wilson is the most intriguing of the four, given he has yet to play an NHL game. He was a first-round pick (No. 16) in the 2012 NHL Draft and made his professional debut with Hershey last Friday in Game 3 of its playoff series against the Providence Bruins.

"Everyone's got to be ready," Wilson said of possibly making his Stanley Cup Playoff debut in Game 5 against New York. "That's the game of hockey, there are always going to be changes in and out, so I'm coming here with not too many expectations but I'm just going to work hard and see what happens."

In three playoff games with the Bears, Wilson, 19, had a goal and six penalty minutes. He was informed he would be joining the Capitals shortly after the Bears' Game 5 loss in Providence.

"I was just sitting on the bus, pretty down after the loss and [Bears president and general manager] Doug Yingst called me up to the front of the bus and told me that I'd be going, so it's pretty cool and I was very excited," Wilson said.

What Wilson lacks in experience, he makes up in size. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound forward had 23 goals, 58 points and 104 penalty minutes in 48 regular-season games with the Plymouth Whalers in the Ontario Hockey League and had nine goals and 17 points in 12 OHL playoff games.

Wilson was voted the best body checker in the OHL in a season-ending coaches poll in each of the past two years.

"He moves well, too, for his size and he's got ability," Hendricks said. "[If] you get pucks to him in the corners, he'll be able to hold guys off and maybe take pucks to the net. I think with his game, he's going to be strong in front of the net with point shots and such and causing havoc in front of the net."

Wilson is confident in his ability to complement Hendricks and Beagle on Washington's fourth line, should he play Friday at Verizon Center.

"I think like any fourth line, we would want to bring energy and lots of physical play. I've been watching their games and they're two great skaters with lots of energy, so if I do get the chance then that would be great to jump in with those guys."

Here are the Capitals' lines from practice Thursday:

Marcus JohanssonNicklas BackstromAlex Ovechkin

Eric FehrMike RibeiroTroy Brouwer

Jason ChimeraMathieu PerreaultJoel Ward

Matt HendricksJay BeagleTom Wilson

Wojtek Wilson – Brooks Laich - Aaron VolpattiJoey Crabb

Karl AlznerMike Green

John ErskineJohn Carlson

Jack HillenSteve Oleksy

Jeff SchultzTom Poti

Braden Holtby

Michal Neuvirth

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