ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Dallas Stars and Washington Capitals, opponents Tuesday at Verizon Center, are lingering on the cusp of their respective conference's Stanley Cup Playoff race.
Entering play Tuesday, each team is one point out of the second wild-card spot.
Dallas, playing the first of four straight road games against Eastern Conference opponents, trails the Phoenix Coyotes with eight games remaining. Washington is one of four Eastern teams within four points of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who currently hold the final playoff spot.
There will be a heightened sense of urgency Tuesday when the Stars and Capitals look to solidify themselves as postseason participants in the final two weeks of the season.
"It feels like every game is do or die," Capitals forward Marcus Johansson said. "This game means a lot for both teams. No one's going to take it easy out there. It's going to be full throttle from the start of the game to the very end."
Where the Stars and Capitals differ, however, is in the direction they are currently trending. Dallas has won four of its past five (4-1-0), while Washington is winless in four of its past five (1-1-3).
"They're in the same position as us," Capitals coach Adam Oates said of the Stars. "It's a desperate game. It's a must-win [Tuesday] for both teams. … I can't think of any way you wouldn't be up for the game."
Capitals defenseman Jack Hillen is a game-time decision with an upper-body injury. He was forced out of Washington's 5-4 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings on March 25 following a collision with right wing Alex Ovechkin and has not played since.
Based on the morning skate, it seems likely one of Washington's defensemen will be forced to play on his off-hand side, a rarity under Oates.
Here are the projected lineups for the Stars and Capitals:
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Valeri Nichushkin
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff – Vernon Fiddler – Colton Sceviour
Ray Whitney – Dustin Jeffrey – Alex Chiasson
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Brenden Dillon
Patrik Nemeth – Sergei Gonchar
Scratched: Kevin Connauton
Injured: Erik Cole (upper body), Rich Peverley (heart surgery), Aaron Rome (lower body)
Marcus Johansson – Nicklas Backstrom – Troy Brouwer
Mikhail Grabovski – Jay Beagle – Alex Ovechkin
Jason Chimera – Joel Ward – Eric Fehr
Dustin Penner – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner – John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov – Mike Green
Jack Hillen – Julien Brouillette
Scratched: Chris Brown, John Erskine, Connor Carrick
Injured: Brooks Laich (groin), Aaron Volpatti (shoulder), Patrick Wey (upper body)