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Capitals, Stars expect urgency as postseason nears

by Adam Vingan

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 BennTyler SeguinValeri Nichushkin

Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt

Shawn HorcoffVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour

Ray WhitneyDustin JeffreyAlex Chiasson

Alex GoligoskiTrevor Daley

Jordie BennBrenden Dillon

Patrik NemethSergei Gonchar

Kari Lehtonen

Tim Thomas

Scratched: Kevin Connauton

Injured: Erik Cole (upper body), Rich Peverley (heart surgery), Aaron Rome (lower body)


Marcus JohanssonNicklas BackstromTroy Brouwer

Mikhail GrabovskiJay BeagleAlex Ovechkin

Jason ChimeraJoel WardEric Fehr

Dustin PennerEvgeny KuznetsovTom Wilson

Karl AlznerJohn Carlson

Dmitry OrlovMike Green

Jack HillenJulien Brouillette

Jaroslav Halak

Braden Holtby

Scratched: Chris Brown, John Erskine, Connor Carrick

Injured: Brooks Laich (groin), Aaron Volpatti (shoulder), Patrick Wey (upper body)

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