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Karl Alzner to miss Game 3 for Capitals

Defenseman won't play against Maple Leafs, day-to-day with upper-body injury

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner will miss Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Monday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports 2, CSN-DC) because of an upper-body injury.

The best-of-7 series is tied 1-1.

"I talked to the trainers this morning," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "He [had] a maintenance day. [The trainers] just asked if he could be off today. He will be a game-time decision for us."

 

[RELATED: Complete Capitals-Maple Leafs series coverage]

 

Nate Schmidt will take his place in the lineup. The Capitals announced Alzner is day-to-day.

Alzner, 28, has played in 540 consecutive regular-season games, the fifth-longest active streak in the NHL, dating to Oct. 8, 2010. He did not miss a regular-season game for the seventh consecutive season.

He also had played in 59 consecutive games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Alzner played 26:17 in the Capitals' 4-3 double-overtime loss to the Maple Leafs in Game 2 at Verizon Center on Saturday.

It's the first time the Capitals will play without Alzner since Game 6 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on April 26, 2010. He was called up for Game 7 of that series two days later because of an injury to defenseman Tom Poti and hadn't missed a game since.

"Karl's an important player," Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "He defends really well, especially down low around the net. He's important on our penalty kill. He's a good player for us."

Schmidt, who was paired with John Carlson, Alzner's usual defense partner, at the morning skate, was in a similar position when the Capitals played the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on April 4. He had to step in and play when Carlson was a scratch after taking part in warmups because of a lower-body injury and scored a goal in a 4-1 victory.

"It might be the same situation," said Schmidt, who had 17 points (three goals, 14 assists) in 60 regular season games. "So I've just got to be ready whenever, if it happens. You've just got to be ready to go if they call you."

Schmidt is a strong skater and believes that his mobility can be an asset against the speedy Maple Leafs.

"I think this is a good series for me," he said. "They're playing good right now and [have] a lot of speed to their game and if I get in there it should be a lot of fun."

Schmidt, 25, played regularly for the Capitals this season before a Feb. 27 trade for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk pushed him out of the top six. He played in seven games after that, including the last four of the regular season when Carlson was sidelined, before being a healthy scratch for the first two playoff games.

"Nate played really well," Trotz said. "He was in here last time [in Toronto]. The last few games when he filled in he filled in great. He's a really good player. We're real fortunate to have him. He's a guy that played in our top six all year and he gets bumped down to seven. So we have a lot of confidence in Nate."

Depth on defense was a concern for the Capitals in the playoffs last seasons when Brook Orpik was out for three games in the first round against the Philadelphia Flyers because of a concussion and then sat out three games in the second round against the Pittsburgh Penguins because he was suspended.

The trade for Shattenkirk helped address that.

"[With] the growth of guys like Schmidt and [Taylor] Chorney and, obviously, we made a deal for Shattenkirk, I think that's a bigger strength for us than it was last year," Trotz said.

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