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Wild's Spurgeon remains out vs. Capitals

Washington center Richards is a game-time decision

by Dan Myers / NHL.com Correspondent

CAPITALS (39-9-4) at WILD (23-20-10) 

TV: 8 p.m. ET; CSN-DC+, FS-N, NHL.TV

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Defenseman Jared Spurgeon will not play when the Minnesota Wild host the Washington Capitals at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday. 

Spurgeon missed the game against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday with an undisclosed injury but practiced Wednesday and took part in the morning skate. 

"Just not ready," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "He's shooting the puck OK but not ready to go into the corner and battle against a team that battles hard." 

Yeo said Spurgeon could return to the lineup against the Boston Bruins on Saturday, depending on how he feels Friday. 

With Spurgeon out, the Wild are expected to go with the same lineup that outplayed the Stars for large portions of the game Tuesday but couldn't find a way to finish. 

Minnesota outshot Dallas 16-4 in the third period, tying the score early in the third before losing in overtime. The Wild have lost six consecutive games, 11 of 12 overall and six straight on home ice, but have played better of late. 

That's been especially true 5-on-5, where Minnesota has controlled the pace in each of the past two games. Its power play has also been better, scoring in six of the past seven. 

The Wild's penalty kill has been suspect over that stretch, however, allowing three power-play goals to the St. Louis Blues in a 4-1 loss Saturday and another against the Stars. 

Yeo said staying out of the box will be critical against the Capitals and their League-leading power play that is converting on 24.4 percent of their chances. 

"Ideally, we don't get into a game that's built around special teams," Yeo said. "Their power play, that's a group we don't want to put on the ice. 

"But in games like these, if you can be even or plus on the special teams, that's a massive advantage." 

Capitals forward Mike Richards will be a game-time decision with an undisclosed ailment. He was given a maintenance day Wednesday and skated with several others during an optional skate Thursday morning. 

Goaltender Braden Holtby, who has lost once in regulation since Nov. 12 (26-1-3) will start for the Capitals. Minnesota will counter with Devan Dubnyk, who has lost his past eight starts and is 2-8-3 since Jan. 1. 

Here are the projected lineups: 

CAPITALS 
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie  
Andre Burakovsky - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams  
Jason Chimera - Marcus Johansson - Tom Wilson  
Stanislav Galiev - Brooks Laich - Michael Latta  

Nate Schmidt - John Carlson  
Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen  
Dmitri Orlov - Taylor Chorney  

Braden Holtby 
Philipp Grubauer  

Injured: Brooks Orpik (lower body), Mike Richards (undisclosed), Jay Beagle (hand), Jakub Vrana (wrist) 
Scratched: None 

WILD 
Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle  
Nino Niederreiter - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville  
Thomas Vanek - Erik Haula - Justin Fontaine  
Ryan Carter - Jarret Stoll - Jason Zucker  

Ryan Suter - Matt Dumba  
Marco Scandella - Christian Folin  
Mike Reilly - Nate Prosser  

Devan Dubnyk 
Darcy Kuemper  

Injured: Jared Spurgeon (deep bruise), Jonas Brodin (foot) 
Scratched: Chris Porter, Niklas Backstrom  

Status report: Orpik, who has missed three months with a lower-body injury, continues to progress. Coach Barry Trotz indicated he will not take part in a pregame skate Thursday but isn't far off from a return to game action. "We've done that with other guys [in the past]. He may not need that," Trotz said. 

Who's hot: Kuznetsov has an assist in three consecutive games. … Dumba is riding a four-game point streak and has five points during that stretch.

 

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