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Preview: Oilers at Capitals

Defenseman Matt Niskanen out for Washington, which can extend home winning streak to 13

by Katie Brown / Correspondent

OILERS (33-20-8) at CAPITALS (40-12-7)

7 p.m. ET; NHLN, TVA Sports, SN, CSN-DC, NHL.TV


Oilers team scope

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Andrej Sekera will play after taking a shot off his arm and leaving a 4-3 win against the Florida Panthers on Wednesday. However, the Oilers are likely to be without Adam Larsson for the second straight game. Larsson sustained a lower-body injury in a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. Edmonton is tied with the Anaheim Ducks for second place in the Pacific Division with 74 points, and is three behind the San Jose Sharks for first place. "It's a huge challenge for our team," coach Todd McLellan said. "We played [the Washington Capitals] obviously really early in the year at home and came away with a win, but I think they're in a different place right now certainly confidence-wise and execution-wise than they were back then. I'd like to think we are as well, so let's see if we can throw a good game at them."


Capitals team scope

Defenseman Matt Niskanen will not play Friday after sustaining a lower-body injury in the second period of a 4-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday. "It's day to day," general manager Brian MacLellan said Thursday. "It's not a serious injury. We'll be fine, but we'll be cautious with it and make sure he's 100 percent before he comes back." Defenseman Brooks Orpik took a maintenance day and did not practice Thursday; coach Barry Trotz said he is a game-time decision. Washington is 7-1-1 in its past nine games and 24-5-1 at home this season. The Capitals are on a 12-game home winning streak and have not lost in regulation at Verizon Center since Dec. 17. Washington leads the NHL in points with 87, five ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference. Braden Holtby will start in goal. He is 9-0-1 with a shutout in his past 10 starts.


Oilers projected lineup

Patrick Maroon -- Connor McDavid -- Leon Draisaitl

Milan Lucic -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Jordan Eberle

Drake Caggiula -- Mark Letestu -- Zack Kassian

Matt Hendricks -- Jujhar Khaira -- Iiro Pakarinen

Andrej Sekera -- Kris Russell

Oscar Klefbom -- Matt Benning

Brandon Davidson -- Eric Gryba

Cam Talbot

Laurent Brossoit

Scratched: Anton Slepyshev

Injured: Adam Larsson (lower body), Benoit Pouliot (undisclosed), Darnell Nurse (lower body), Tyler Pitlick (torn ACL)


Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Nicklas Backstrom -- T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Justin Williams

Brett Connolly -- Lars Eller -- Zach Sanford

Daniel Winnik -- Jay Beagle -- Tom Wilson

Karl Alzner -- John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov -- Nate Schmidt

Brooks Orpik -- Taylor Chorney

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Aaron Ness, Riley Barber

Injured: Andre Burakovsky (hand), Matt Niskanen (lower body)


Status report

Nurse was activated off injured reserve Friday but will not play. McLellan said he would like him take part in at least one full practice before returning.. ... Washington recalled defenseman Aaron Ness and forward Riley Barber from Hershey of the American Hockey League on Thursday. Trotz said a few regulars were "banged up" and how they felt would dictate whether Ness or Barber would play Friday.


Who's hot

McDavid has eight points (two goals, six assists) in his past six games. Klefbom has six points (three goals, three assists) in his past five games. Draisaitl has six points (two goals, four assists) in his past five games. … Backstrom has 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in his past 10 games. Oshie has eight points (four goals, four assists) in his past five games. Kuznetsov has 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in 11 games. 

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