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Capitals want to build off win as Islanders pay visit

by Jon Lane

ISLANDERS (21-28-8) at CAPITALS (25-22-9)


Last 10: New York 3-6-1; Washington 3-6-1

Season series: This is the third of four games between the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals. Washington took a 2-0 series lead on Nov. 30 with a 3-2 win at Nassau Coliseum.

Big story: The race in the Eastern Conference is tight and the Capitals are in the thick of it. Washington had lost nine of 11 and three straight at Verizon Center before Alex Ovechkin's overtime goal Sunday secured a thrilling 6-5 win against the Detroit Red Wings. The captain's goal is to build on the momentum to dig out of what was a seven-game winless streak in mid-January.

"That's our goal," Ovechkin said Monday. "That's what we have to do. We have to win. It's so tight right now in the standings. Right now if we can win three or four games (in a row) we'll be fine."

After roaring back into playoff contention in the past month with wins in four straight and seven of nine, the Islanders have dropped five straight and are last in the Metropolitan Division.

Team Scope:

Islanders: New York coach Jack Capuano shuffled his lines in practice Sunday hoping to spark an offense that's scored two goals in the past two games. Wings Cal Clutterbuck and Josh Bailey switched places on the second and third line. Colin McDonald was moved from the fourth to the third line with Bailey and Brock Nelson.

"We just wanted to get different looks in practice with different plays and line combinations," Capuano said. "We are going through a stretch where we aren't scoring many goals. You can play as much great defense as you want -- and that's our mentality, a defense-first mentality -- but there aren't going to be too many 1-0 games in this League. … We have to get secondary scoring."

Capitals: Eric Fehr (lower body) and Aaron Volpatti (upper body) sat out practice Monday, leaving Washington with 10 healthy forwards. Coach Adam Oates expects Fehr, hurt blocking a shot in the first period Sunday, to play Tuesday and is counting on other players to step in and contribute for those unable to go.

"It's the same for everybody," Oates said. "The team we played [Sunday], they're missing guys too. You have to spread the wealth and that's why you have teams in the minors and that's why they're important. And guys get called up who get opportunities, they've got to be ready to play."

Fehr will be in the lineup to center the third line, but Volpatti will miss the game.

Who's hot: Islanders forward Kyle Okposo has 12 points in his past games. Goalie Evgeni Nabokov has stopped 65 of 70 shots in his past two games. … Capitals forward Joel Ward scored twice Sunday. He is riding his second three-game goal streak this season and his 17 goals match a career-high.

Injury report: Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic (concussion) returned to the ice Sunday to participate in drills but remains out of action … Capitals center Brooks Laich (groin) practiced fully Monday and will play Tuesday. Center Mikhail Grabovski (ankle) left practice early and is expected to be out until after the Olympic break. Defenseman Mike Green (concussion) is out and it's possible he won't play again until after the Olympics. Defenseman Jack Hillen (right tibia surgery) remains on injured reserve.


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