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Preview: Capitals at Islanders

John Carlson returns for Washington; Thomas Hickey, Cal Clutterbuck out for New York

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

CAPITALS (33-10-6) at ISLANDERS (21-17-9)

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


Capitals team scope

The Washington Capitals, who are 13-1-1 in their past 15 games, will have defenseman John Carlson in the lineup for the first time since he sustained a lower-body injury Jan. 15. Carlson, the Capitals' leader in average ice time per game (22:53), has five goals and 25 points in 43 games. The Capitals went 4-1-1 in the six games Carlson missed but allowed 20 goals. The Capitals, who have allowed 82 goals in 43 games with Carlson in the lineup, will be facing a New York Islanders team that is 5-0-1 in its past six games and hasn't lost in regulation since Doug Weight replaced Jack Capuano as coach Jan. 17. "I think they're recommitted, they're refocused, they're 4-0-1 since the [coaching] change," coach Barry Trotz said. "They know they have to make up some ground, so their [Stanley Cup] Playoff push has started a little bit [early] here. They're playing good hockey, and they won their last game before the [coaching] change as well."


Islanders team scope

The Islanders will play their first game of the second half without defenseman Thomas Hickey and right wing Cal Clutterbuck because of lower-body injuries. Hickey and Clutterbuck each skated Tuesday morning but neither is ready to play. Clutterbuck re-aggravated his injury during a 3-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday and will be replaced by Shane Prince. Hickey will miss his second straight game. "These guys are looking pretty good and they're feeling pretty good, but we want to make sure we're diligent about it and get them back healthy," Weight said. The Islanders are five points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the second wild card into the playoffs in the Eastern Conference but have three games in hand on the Flyes. "We're picking our pace up a little bit here," Weight said. "I think our games played show that we're going to have a lot of hockey to come. A couple of teams still have their bye weeks ahead of them, so we've got some ground to make up and every game's huge. Guys got some rest and got rejuvenated, and now we go back to work."


Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Nicklas Backstrom -- T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Justin Williams

Brett Connolly -- Lars Eller -- Andre Burakovsky

Daniel Winnik -- Jay Beagle -- Tom Wilson

Karl Alzner -- John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov -- Matt Niskanen

Brooks Orpik -- Nate Schmidt

Philipp Grubauer

Braden Holtby

Scratched: Christian Djoos, Taylor Chorney, Chandler Stephenson

Injured: None


Islanders projected lineup

Anders Lee -- John Tavares -- Josh Bailey

Anthony Beauvillier -- Brock Nelson -- Ryan Strome

Andrew Ladd -- Alan Quine -- Jason Chimera

Nikolay Kulemin -- Casey Cizikas -- Shane Prince

Nick Leddy -- Johnny Boychuk

Calvin de Haan -- Dennis Seidenberg

Adam Pelech -- Scott Mayfield

Thomas Greiss

Jean-Francois Berube

Scratched: Stephen Gionta

Injured: Travis Hamonic (knee), Thomas Hickey (lower body), Cal Clutterbuck (lower body)


Status report

Grubauer will start for the third time in the past five games. Holtby and Ovechkin, who played at the 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles, were at Barclays Center on Tuesday morning. … Hamonic did not skate Tuesday, but Weight said he's progressing well. Hamonic was injured during a game against the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 7. "He's inching along, but he still has some stiffness and pain," Weight said. "He'll be back as fast as possible if we know Travis. He's working hard at his rehab. Nothing to update yet, but he's definitely going to be on the ice pretty soon."


Who's hot

Ovechkin has five goals and 10 assists in his past 10 games. Orlov has two goals and two assists in the past three games. … Tavares has eight goals and five assists in his past eight games. Lee has three goals and four assists in his past six games. Greiss is 4-0-1 with two shutouts in his past five starts.

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