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Preview: Capitals at Blues

Jake Allen back in goal for St. Louis; Washington defenseman John Carlson out again

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

CAPITALS (29-9-6) at BLUES (23-17-5)

8 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, SN, FS-MW, CSN-DC, NHL.TV


Capitals team scope

The Washington Capitals will be without defenseman John Carlson, who has a lower-body injury, for a second consecutive game. Coach Barry Trotz said he isn't sure whether Carlson will be able to play in their next game, at the Dallas Stars on Saturday. "We'll see about that," Trotz said. "We don't know." Trotz said if Carlson participates in the morning skate Saturday that will be enough time to get ready to play. The Capitals have points in 11 straight games (9-0-2) and play the second of a three-game trip on Thursday. The Capitals are averaging 4.36 goals per game during the past 11 and are allowing just 1.82 goals per game. "The team's been doing well," right wing T.J. Oshie said. "When the team's doing well it makes you feel good. When you're scoring goals and the team's not winning, it's not fun. It's been a good year. We had a good run there and looking to start another one." Goaltender Braden Holtby, who was removed after allowing five goals on 26 shots in an 8-7 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday, will start Thursday.


Blues team scope

The St. Louis Blues are going back with Jake Allen in goal Thursday after he sat out the previous three games. Allen has struggled recently and has been pulled in three of his past five starts. "There's just some things technically that we want to see him get a little bit better at and we saw those in the last two practices," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "If we didn't see that, quite frankly we wouldn't have played him. We wouldn't put him out there until we see those things. But we saw them and I think our confidence that they're going to really impact the way he plays and get back to where he was in the first 20 games, we think he's capable of doing that." The Blues want to get right wing Vladimir Tarasenko, who has been held without a goal for five straight games, going and will play Dmitrij Jaskin on the left wing to provide some strength for Tarasenko with Jori Lehtera at center. "We need to be consistently a better checking team and create more space for ourselves in zone," Hitchcock said. "Our feeling in playing Jaskin is in four of the last five games he's played awful well and he's created space for whoever he plays with. We had this line together in the last Washington game [4-3 loss Nov. 23], and it was a very good line for us; probably our best line. When we started watching the tape, it just tweaked us in saying, 'We need the line that [Tarasenko] plays on to be a better line for us,' and this gives it an opportunity to have a little bit different type of onset where it can maybe control the puck a little bit more in the offensive zone rather than just be a rush-attack line."


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 -- Matt Niskanen

Brooks Orpik -- Dmitry Orlov

Taylor Chorney -- Nate Schmidt

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: None

Injured: John Carlson (lower body)


Blues projected lineup

Jaden Schwartz -- Paul Stastny -- Alexander Steen

Robby Fabbri -- Patrik Berglund -- David Perron

Dmitrij Jaskin -- Jori Lehtera -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Scottie Upshall -- Kyle Brodziak -- Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester -- Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson -- Kevin Shattenkirk

Robert Bortuzzo -- Colton Parayko

Jake Allen

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Nail Yakupov, Joel Edmundson

Injured: None 


Status report

With Carlson out, Chorney will play a second straight game after being scratched the previous six. ... Gunnarsson returns after missing six games because of a lower-body injury and being a healthy scratch Tuesday. Edmundson will be a healthy scratch for the first time in 21 games. Upshall, a healthy scratch the past three games, returns to the lineup in place of Yakupov, a healthy scratch for the first time in seven games.


Who's hot

Backstrom has four goals and nine assists during a seven-game point streak. Ovechkin has three goals and six assists during a five-game point streak, and needs two goals to tie Michel Goulet (548) for 28th and three to tie Ron Francis (549) for 27th on the all-time NHL list. Oshie has three goals and six assists in the past five games. Justin Williams has seven goals and five assists in the past 10 games. Kuznetsov has two goals and nine assists in the past eight games. … Stastny has four goals and three assists in the past seven games. Steen has three goals and six assists in the past eight games. Berglund has 10 goals in 15 games after starting the season with one goal in 30 games.

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