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Mathew Barzal to make NHL debut for Islanders

19-year-old forward in lineup; Capitals stick with Braden Holtby in goal

by Katie Brown / NHL.com Correspondent

ISLANDERS (0-1-0) at CAPITALS (0-0-1)

TV: 7 p.m. ET; MSG+, CSN-DC, NHL.TV

ARLINGTON, Va. -- New York Islanders forward Mathew Barzal will make his NHL debut against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center on Saturday.

The 19-year-old, who was the 16th pick of the 2015 NHL Draft by the Islanders, isn't expecting the same kind of debut Toronto Maple Leafs center and No. 1 pick Auston Matthews had in his first game when he scored four goals against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday.

"Just a win tonight would be great," Barzal said. "I'm not expecting four goals. That's insane. It's not so much a personal showcase for me. I'm here to try to help this team win."

Coach Jack Capuano said with roster decisions looming, he's giving players like Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier a chance to play so he can assess how NHL-ready they are and perhaps bring some extra offense to the Islanders lineup. Beauvillier made his NHL debut in a 6-3 loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday.

The Islanders currently have six defensemen on their 23-man roster (they have three goalies). Capuano said that's not sustainable for the long haul.

"We're going to have to figure out what some of these young guys can do, and then we'll sit down and make some decisions," Capuano said. "But he [Barzal] deserves an opportunity. I thought he played well in training camp, he's a point-producer guy."

Islanders forward Jason Chimera played against the Capitals, his former team, during preseason, but is looking forward to Saturday. Chimera will play on the Islanders' top line with captain John Tavares and Andrew Ladd.  

"Once you get started it's just playing hockey, doing your thing," Chimera, who spent parts of six seasons with Washington from 2009-16, said. "It's an extra special night for them, it's opening night. We need a win, they need a win, so it's going to be a good game."

Chimera signed a two-year contract with the Islanders as an unrestricted free agent on July 1. His time there gave him some insight as to what the Islanders will be up against. Chimera said the Islanders need to stay out of the penalty box and keep turnovers to a minimum.

"They live off turnovers," Chimera said. "Those guys want to go on the rush and they want to score goals."

The Capitals lost their season opener 3-2 in a shootout against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Wednesday. Washington had a 29-8-4 record at home last season, is 13-2-1-1 in home openers at Verizon Center, 2-0-1 in home openers against the Islanders and had a 3-0-1 record against the Islanders last season.

Each team is looking for its first win of the season. 

 
Islanders projected lineup:

Jason Chimera -- John Tavares -- Andrew Ladd

Anders Lee -- Mathew Barzal -- Ryan Strome

Shane Prince -- Brock Nelson -- Josh Bailey

Nikolay Kulemin -- Casey Cizikas -- Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy -- Travis Hamonic

Thomas Hickey -- Johnny Boychuk

Calvin de Haan -- Dennis Seidenberg

Thomas Greiss

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Alan Quine, Anthony Beauvillier, Jean-Francois Berube

Injured: Eric Boulton (lower body)


 
Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- T.J. Oshie

Andre Burakovsky -- Nicklas Backstrom -- Marcus Johansson

Zachary Sanford -- Lars Eller -- Justin Williams

Daniel Winnik -- Jay Beagle -- Tom Wilson

Karl Alzner -- Matt Niskanen

Dmitry Orlov -- John Carlson

Brooks Orpik -- Nate Schmidt

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Brett Connolly, Taylor Chorney

Injured: None

 

Status report

Beauvillier will be a healthy scratch. .. Greiss will start in goal. Halak is expected to play against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. ... Holtby will start for the Capitals.

 

Who's hot

Burakovsky scored two goals against the Penguins. … Backstrom had two assists. ... Cizikas had two assists against the Rangers.

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