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Struggling Capitals visit slumping Islanders

by Adam Vingan

CAPITALS (13-11-2) at ISLANDERS (8-15-3)


Last 10: Washington 4-4-2; New York 2-8-0

Season series: This is the second meeting between these Metropolitan Division rivals. On Nov. 5, the Washington Capitals used a five-goal second period to defeat the New York Islanders 6-2 at Verizon Center.

Big story: The Capitals snapped out of a funk Friday; the Islanders are still mired in one. Washington ended a season-long four-game losing streak with a 3-2 shootout victory against the Montreal Canadiens at Verizon Center. The Islanders saw their skid reach five games when they were routed 5-0 at home by Detroit Red Wings, a loss that kept them planted in the Metropolitan Division basement.

Team Scope:

Capitals: The Capitals got off to a slow start on Friday and gave up a goal only 67 seconds after scoring one themselves, common themes through most of their games so far this season. They trailed 2-1 after two periods, but Mikhail Grabovski scored in the third to force overtime and the Capitals went 3-for-3 in the shootout, with Grabovski getting the winner.

The victory moved the Capitals past the New York Rangers into second place in the Metropolitan Division.

"We got to recover quick and get [to Long Island] and just try to carry some of the momentum we had in the second period of the game," said forward Eric Fehr, who had a goal and an assist. "I thought we played a lot more physical, and I thought that was a bigger reason why we came back."

Islanders: Nothing is going right for New York, which has lost 10 of 12. The Islanders have scored nine goals in their past five games and are searching for answers as they continue to slide down the League standings.

"You keep your head up and you keep playing hard but this isn't good enough in any way," captain John Tavares said. "As a team, all we can think about his playing a better game next time out."

Kevin Poulin stopped 25 of 30 shots against Detroit. Fellow rookie Anders Nilsson could get the start against Washington.

The Islanders' schedule doesn't get any easier. After hosting the Capitals on Saturday and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, they play five in a row on the road. All five opponents are among the top seven teams in the Western Conference.

Who's hot: Since returning to the lineup after a three-week absence a week ago, Fehr has two goals and three points in three games. … Despite the Islanders' overall struggles, Tavares has points in eight of his past 10 games.

Injury report: The Capitals have been without defensemen John Erskine (knee) and Jack Hillen (fractured tibial plateau), both of whom are on long-term injured reserve. Forward Brooks Laich and goaltender Michal Neuvirth both have lower-body injuries. Laich's status is uncertain, but Neuvirth will not make the trip after stepping on a puck during pregame warm-ups Friday and missing his scheduled start. … The Islanders are missing starting goaltender Evgeni Nabokov (groin) as well as defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) and Brian Strait (upper body).

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