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Isles get Okposo back for meeting with Caps

by John Kreiser /
CAPITALS (25-14-8) at ISLANDERS (14-23-7)


Last 10 -- Washington 5-2-3; New York 5-4-1

Season series -- The teams are meeting for the second time this season, but the first since Oct. 13, when the Caps beat the Islanders 2-1 at the Verizon Center.

Big story -- The Capitals continue to do something few people would have believe before the season -- struggle to score. They rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force overtime in Philadelphia before losing 3-2. The Caps haven't scored more than three goals in a game in more that six weeks. They figure to get some chances against the Islanders, who surrendered five goals in a 5-2 loss to the NHL's weakest offense, the New Jersey Devils, on Monday, and allow nearly 33 shots a game.

Team Scope:

Capitals -- Frustration is growing in Washington, where getting two goals in 40 seconds in the third period was good enough to produce one point but not two. The Caps were dominated for much of the night in Philadelphia before Andrej Meszaros' overtime goal gave the Flyers a 3-2 win.

"After every game we say if we score one goal ugly we will think, 'OK, this is it. It's time to get going,' " an emotional Alex Ovechkin said. "It has to be every game, working hard. All the guys in this room understand if we work hard and if we use our skill nobody can stop us. In the second period we had probably four or six shots on net (actually eight). That's not our game. We have to go to the net, find the rebound, crash the net, make some hits and be angrier."

Islanders -- In a season that has been riddled with injuries, the Islanders are finally getting some good news. Foiward Kyle Okposo, counted on to play on the first line this season, will make his debut on Thursday after missing more than three months following shoulder surgery on Sept. 28.

"This is definitely a good feeling," he said after Wednesday's practice. "Waiting a long time for this, and I'm ready to go."

Coach Jack Capuano said Okposo's ice time will be monitored at first.

"Obviously, it's what's best for Kyle. But we would not play him unless he's ready to go," he said. "He's been working very hard. We will see how the game goes, but I'm sure he'll see some power-play time, for sure."

Who's hot -- Washington's Nicklas Backstrom has assists in three consecutive games. Isles center John Tavares leads the team with 18 goals and has 19 points in his last 16 games. Linemate PA Parenteau has 2 goals, 4 points and is plus-3 in New York's last three games.

Injury report -- The Caps were without Matt Bradley (broken finger), Alexander Semin (lower body), Eric Fehr (shoulder) and Tom Poti (lower body) in Philadelphia. Goalie Michal Neuvirth left after the first period with a lower-body injury. … The Islanders' lengthy injury list got longer on Monday when defenseman Milan Jurcina left with an upper body injury. Six regulars and rookie Rhett Rakhshani are also out with injuries, though center Frans Nielsen (groin) is a game-time decision. He's missed the Isles' last six games.

Stat pack -- The Islanders have allowed the first goal in each of their last seven games, and have trailed 1-0 within the first five minutes in six of those games. But the Caps have their own problems with allowing the first goal -- they did it again on Tuesday and have allowed the other team to score first in 17 of their last 22 games.

Puck drop -- The Caps have been the NHL's most lethal offensive team for the last few years, but they're in a rut. Tuesday's 3-2 loss marked the 11th straight game in which the Caps scored three or fewer goals, the team's longest such streak in more than five years. It marked the fourth straight games Washington has been limited to fewer than 30 shots on goal, also the team's longest such streak in more than five years. The Caps did not have a power play and have not had multiple power-play goals in 23 consecutive games, their longest such streak in nine years.

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