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Capitals forward Wilson close to returning from injury

by Katie Brown

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The status of Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson remains unknown for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the New York Islanders on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports 2, MSG+, CSN-DC).

Capitals coach Barry Trotz said Thursday that Wilson is very close to being cleared to play in Game 2 and that his recovery is progressing as expected.

Wilson was injured blocking a shot April 5 against the Detroit Red Wings and skated in his first full practice Tuesday. He participated in Washington's optional skate Thursday.

"I've been pushing it pretty hard and skating hard," Wilson said. "I'll wake up tomorrow morning, skate again and see how I feel and take it from there. At this point I'm feeling pretty good."

The Capitals have a chance to even the best-of-7 series before heading to Nassau Coliseum for Game 3 on Sunday. Washington's sluggish start allowed New York to win Game 1 at Verizon Center on Wednesday.

"We have to turn our level up a whole bunch more," Capitals forward Jason Chimera said. "That's our biggest adjustment. You have to realize what's at stake. Nobody is going to hand it to us. We have a good team but you can't just wait in the playoffs."

Rookie forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and Michael Latta made their Stanley Cup Playoff debuts Wednesday. Trotz said he thought Latta played well but was particularly complimentary of Kuznetsov's performance.

"I really liked [Kuznetsov's] game," Trotz said. "He was one of the few guys that was creating and using the stuff that we wanted to use. He made some really good plays. He had a great play with [John Carlson] on the back end. Matt Martin was able to slide in there and block the shot."

Goaltender Braden Holtby, defensemen Carlson and Brooks Orpik and forwards Alex Ovechkin, Marcus Johansson, Joel Ward and Curtis Glencross did not participate in Washington's optional skate. All players not present were reported as healthy.

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