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A trio of Capitals suffer injuries; a Saturday recall is possible

A trio of Capitals suffer injuries; a Saturday recall is possible

Through the first 16 games this season, the Capitals had pretty much avoided injuries. Some bumps and bruises here and there, to be sure, but nothing serious enough to force a player out of the lineup.

It caught up to them on Friday.

Lars Eller, T.J. Oshie and Andre Burakovsky each left the Capitals’ eventual 1-0 win over the Red Wings in the first period, leaving the home team with just three forward lines for the balance of the contest.

Coach Barry Trotz said all three players were suffering from upper body ailments and would be reevaluated Saturday morning. Trotz also hinted at the possibility of recalling a player from minor league Hershey—just in case.

“Nope, I can’t,” Trotz cracked, asked if he could provide an update on the injured players. “They are going to be evaluated. We’ll have a better idea tomorrow.”

RELATED: Battered and bruised Caps manage late win over Red Wings

Eller was the first to go down. It’s unclear how he got hurt, but he did get hit hard by Tyler Bertuzzi along the boards on his first shift. Eller played only 45 seconds.  

A few minutes later, Oshie laid into Riley Sheahan in open ice but ended up taking the brunt of the blow. Oshie, arguably the Capitals' best player to this point in the season, went to the bench briefly before retiring to the dressing room.

Burakovsky, meantime, left the game after being spotted on the bench in obvious discomfort. A review of his final shift did not reveal anything obvious.  

Trotz wouldn't commit to recalling a player from the Bears, but it sure sounded likely. There are several deserving candidates in Hershey, but, as always, the Caps also must weigh several factors, such as the type of player that needs to be replaced. Is it a winger? A center? Top six, etc. And that might not be known until the injured players are reexamined.

“I’m probably going to bring one guy in—just in case,” Trotz said. “But we won’t make that decision until tomorrow. That’s sorta the idea. There’s some unknown and we have a noon game [vs. Columbus on Sunday]. …We’ll probably be safe, and that person will probably be in and out for the day.”

Trotz said he was surprised that his team had managed to avoid injuries for more than a month, particularly since the Capitals sent nine players to the World Cup of Hockey prior to the season.

“We were getting past that stage in the season where we hitting that first 20 games,” he said. “Then you have a lot of World Cuppers, they are already getting into the 30s here because guys played eight, nine games at the World Cup. Those were like playoff games, so there’s a lot of wear and tear on your top players in this league.”

Trotz also acknowledged discussing his team’s good fortune earlier in the day—a no-no in the superstitious world of pro hockey.

“It was funny, I got a flu shot today with one of our doctors and I said, ‘Knock on wood, we haven’t had any injuries,’” Trotz said. “We were talking about that and how fortunate that was. And I should have just kept my mouth shut.”


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Kuznetsov to be evaluated Saturday after leaving Islanders game with "upper body" issue

Kuznetsov to be evaluated Saturday after leaving Islanders game with "upper body" issue

The Capitals may have won the game Friday against the New York Islanders, but now they will wait to see if they also suffered a significant loss.

Kuznetsov left the game in the third period after taking a slash from Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey which sent him sliding head-first into the boards. The team labeled the issue as “upper body” when it was announced he would not return to the game.

Head coach Barry Trotz was tight-lipped afterward on Kuznetsov’s status.

“They're going to re-evaluate him tomorrow and we'll have some clarity hopefully tomorrow,” he said.


You can see the play here:

When Kuznetsov is first slashed he immediately reacts. His feet then catch the stick of goalie Jaroslav Halak which sends him tripping and sliding hard into the boards. He sat on the ice for several minutes afterward and was looked at by the trainer before getting to his feet and slowly making his way to the locker room.

When asked after the game what he felt about the slash, Trotz said only, “Hockey play.”

One of the Capitals’ biggest strengths as a team is their depth down the middle. Any injury to a center, considering it is arguably the most important skating position on the ice, would be significant. An injury to the team’s top-line center would be even more costly.

Kuznetsov leads the team with 28 assists and ranks second in both goals (21) and points (69).

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3 stars of the game: Caps win brutal rematch to sweep home-and-home with Islanders

3 stars of the game: Caps win brutal rematch to sweep home-and-home with Islanders

The Caps rocked the green in warmups, the red for the game and left a bit black and blue after a brutal 6-3 win over the New York Islanders.

Based on how things went in Brooklyn on Thursday, odds were that there would be some bad blood when the two teams met Washington on Friday. One night after giving up seven goals, the Islanders gave up another six in Washington and frustrations over a rough season boiled over all game long.

Ross Johnston was ejected for continuing to fight Tom Wilson even after the referees intervened, both teams combined for 56 PIMs and Evgeny Kuznetsov left the game in the second period after a slash from Thomas Hickey as he went headfirst into the boards.

The sting of the rough night was mitigated somewhat, however, by the 6-3 score as the Caps won their fourth straight.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Alex Chiasson: Playing in his first game since March 8, Chiasson made the most of his opportunity with a three-point night. Jakub Vrana did the legwork as he drove the net with the puck. Jaroslav Halak stuck out his stick catching Vrana which spun the netminder around and out of the crease. Chiasson came up behind for the easy layup.

He would repay the favor with an assist for Vrana's goal later in the third. Chiasson's first assist on the night came in the second period as his initial shot was saved, but he stayed in the face of Halak long enough to prevent him from making the save on Matt Niskanen's goal.

2. Nicklas Backstrom: When things were getting ugly, Backstrom made the Islanders pay with a power play goal on the two-man advantage.

After Johnston lost his marbles and Cal Clutterbuck was called for interference on Oshie, the Capitals needed to take advantage and put the Islanders away or watch New York build momentum. That was the critical juncture of the game. Backstrom also added an assist on the two-point night.

3. Braden Holtby: The recent struggles of Holtby have been well documented. After yielding the crease to Philipp Grubauer the last four games, Holtby got the start on Friday and played very well in the winning effort. The defense in front of him certainly helped allowing only 13 shots in the first two periods, but the Islanders were buzzing in the third period. New York battled back to make it 5-3 and Mathew Barzal had a breakaway opportunity with a chance to cut the deficit to one. Holtby made the save to deny Barzal and shut the door on the comeback attempt.

In all, Holtby turned aside 22 of the 25 shots he faced.