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Boychuk expected to be ready for Islanders in first round

Defenseman practiced Sunday after missing final three games against Panthers in Qualifiers

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

Johnny Boychuk practiced with the New York Islanders on Sunday and the defenseman is expected to be ready for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Washington Capitals.

Boychuk was injured on an illegal check to the head by Florida Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. He was replaced by defenseman Andy Greene for the remainder of the series, which the Islanders won in four games.

Boychuk, who scored 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in 64 games during the regular season, is the lone injured player on the Islanders roster. Forward Leo Komarov missed training camp after he was hit in the face with a puck during voluntary workouts but made his postseason debut in New York's series-ending 5-1 win against Florida on Friday at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the Eastern Conference hub city.

As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, a team is not permitted to disclose player injury or illness information.

"We had everybody (at practice) today," Islanders coach Barry Trotz said Sunday. "We're good to go."

Game 1 of the best-of-7 series is Wednesday (3 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS). It will be the first time Trotz will coach against his former team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs; he was hired by New York on June 21, 2018, exactly two weeks after winning the Cup with Washington.

It's the first time the Islanders and Capitals have faced each other in the playoffs since 2015, when Washington defeated New York in the first round in seven games. Each team was 2-2-0 against the other this season.

"That group has a lot of pedigree, they've got a lot of star power and they've won a championship," Trotz said of the Capitals. "They're well-equipped in a lot of areas, so the biggest challenge is to play them even and play them hard, and they'll do the same because I know a lot about that group."

The Capitals earned the No. 3 seed in the East with a 2-1 win against the Boston Bruins in their final game of the round-robin portion of the Qualifiers on Sunday. Washington again played without defenseman John Carlson, who has been unfit to play since getting injured during an exhibition game against the Carolina Hurricanes on July 29.

"Obviously, we're going to play the Islanders and we know their system well," Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said. "It's going to be tight games. It's going to be a tough matchup and tough games, so it's not going to be easy."

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