Game 32 Preview: Caps at New York Islanders

Posted by Dave Nichols | Tuesday, December 16, 2008 | , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals (18-10-3-39, first in Southeast) take to the road to face the New York Islanders (10-18-2-22, fifth in Atlantic) at 7:00 PM from the Nassau Coliseum.

The Caps hit Long Island winners of their last three games, over Boston, Ottawa, and Montreal. They surrendered just one goal in each of the three contests against Northeast Division foes. Starting goalie Brent Johnson defeated Boston and Ottawa and has nine wins this season, matching his career high with Washington and his most since 2002-03 with St. Louis, when he had 16.

Johnson has been playing with a sore hip, but he's better off than Jose Theodore, who will miss his second straight game with a hip injury of his own.

Rookie Simeon Varlamov, 20, made his NHL debut in the 2-1 victory over Montreal Saturday night. When asked if he was nervous making his first start in such hostile conditions he replied though an interpreter that after that experience "I will not be afraid of anything."

The Capitals' injury list still reads like a Russian novel despite getting several players back last week. But each time someone comes off the list, someone new goes on. This week, forwards Tomas Fleischmann (tied for third on the team in goals with 10) and Eric Fehr were added. The team is hopeful that they both can play tonight.

Sergei Federov, who played so well in the Ottawa game, went right back on the injury list however. Feds' latest injury is undisclosed, but he missed several weeks earlier with a sprained ankle. Tyler Sloan is questionable for the game tonight as well with a bruised heel.

Winger Alexander Semin and defenseman Mike Green have picked up from where they left off before missing time with injury though. Semin has points in all three games since returning to the lineup (1 goal, 2 assists) and Green had a goal and two assists in the Ottawa win.

The Islanders are struggling. They have lost six in a row dating back to the Caps 5-2 win on Dec. 4. New York has scored just 11 goals in those six games.

Trent Hunter and Bill Guerin both have 11 goals on the season to lead the Isles, and Doug Weight is the leading scorer with 27 points (6 goals, 21 assists).

Joey MacDonald is the top goalie for N.Y. with Rick DiPietro still out with his knee injury. MacDonald is 10-14-3, 3.20, .900 on the season.

WAS: PP-5th (23.8%, 31/130); PK-18th (80.9%, 29/152)
NYI: PP-18th (18.0%, 25/139); PK-24th (79.3%, 30/145)

WAS: RW Tomas Fleischmann (undisclosed-Questionable); RW Chris Clark (Forearm-Out); D Jeff Schultz (Finger-IR); D John Erskine (Concussion-OUT); D Brian Pothier (Concussion-Out); C Sergei Federov (Undisclosed-OUT); RW Eric Fehr (Shoulder-Questionable); D Tyler Sloan (Heel-Questionable); G Jose Theodore (Hip-OUT)

NYI: D Radek Martinek (Shoulder-IR); D Bruno Gervais (Leg-IR); C Mike Comrie (Hip-IR); G Rick DiPietro (Knee-IR); RW Kyle Okposo (Arm-IR); C Mike Sillinger (Groin-Questionable); C Frans Nielsen (Head, leg-IR)