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Islanders face Capitals in Saturday matinee

by Brian Hunter

ISLANDERS (39-19-1) at CAPITALS (32-17-10)


Season series: The New York Islanders have won two of three from the Washington Capitals this season, with the home team winning each game. The Islanders' two wins came in overtime, on goals by Johnny Boychuk and John Tavares, respectively. Alex Ovechkin, whose four goals lead all scorers in the series, had the decisive goal in the Capitals' lone win. The first-place Islanders and third-place Capitals are separated by five points in the Metropolitan Division standings.

Islanders team scope: Forward Mikhail Grabovski was placed on injured reserve Friday because of an upper-body injury and forward Kael Mouillierat was recalled from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis. Coach Jack Capuano said after the 5-2 win Thursday against the Nashville Predators that Grabovski could be out a while. Mouillierat has 18 goals and 40 points in 51 AHL games this season. The Islanders tied the Predators for most wins in the NHL with 39, though the Predators lead in the race for the Presidents' Trophy by five points and have played one fewer game. Tavares has five goals and four assists during a four-game point streak.

Capitals team scope: This is the start of a back-to-back matinee set for Washington, which plays at the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. "We're feeling good about our game and we're catching up to them [Islanders], I think," forward Marcus Johansson said in video posted by the Capitals. "[Saturday] is a big game and if we can win that one we're giving ourselves a chance to get to them before the season is over." The Capitals are coming off a 5-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday and are 22-7-6 since Dec. 4; their 50 points are tied with the Predators for most in the League during that span. Ovechkin made it 16 goals and 24 points in his past 16 games with a goal and an assist Thursday. Nicklas Backstrom had three assists to move into fifth on the Capitals' all-time scoring list with 557 points.

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