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Karl Alzner's return for Capitals in Game 1 unclear

Defenseman progressing from upper-body injury, not sure if he'll play against Penguins

by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / NHL.com Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The status of Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner remains unclear for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports 2).

"We're not there yet," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said Wednesday when asked if it was possible Alzner will play in Game 1. "Until we know 100 percent that he's able to go, then there's no decision."

Alzner missed the last four games of the first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs because of an upper-body injury after playing in 599 consecutive NHL games, including the regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs.

 

[RELATED: Complete Capitals vs. Penguins series coverage]

 

But he is getting closer to returning. He practiced Wednesday for the second day in a row as part of the extra defense pair with Taylor Chorney.

"Still progressing," Alzner said. "Nothing new today. Still progressing."

Alzner also was noncommittal about whether he'll play Thursday.

"It's a possibility that I'm going to be practicing in the morning, yes, for sure," he said. "It's the same as every day. I'm just coming each day."

Right wing Tom Wilson was back at practice Wednesday after leaving Tuesday when he was struck in the foot with a shot by defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. Wilson said he had some trouble putting his foot inside the skate boot but expects to be fine for Game 1.

"I'm sure the hype and the adrenaline will make me forget about it [Thursday]," Wilson said. "I didn't even have it X-rayed. It's one of those ones that it's a little tough to put in the skate, but it's all right. It's just a bruise."

Center Lars Eller was also back at practice after taking a maintenance day Tuesday and said he will play in Game 1.

"I needed an extra day and some therapy on stuff," Eller said. "Nothing that I was worried about that would keep me out of [Game 1]. Just a matter of taking one more day to feel better."

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