Capitals forward Anthony Mantha is expected to play Thursday for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery in November as Washington hosts the Carolina Hurricanes. Head coach Peter Laviolette would not commit to him playing, but the team did not recall any forwards from Hershey so if Mantha does not play, the team would be forced to play down a forward and go with seven defensemen.
Mantha has practiced on the second line this week and on the power play. He also came off the ice for morning skate with the regular players and was not on late with the scratches so all signs point to him playing Thursday.
Mantha last played on Nov. 4 against the Florida Panthers when a missed check led to the injury.
Thursday's morning skate was an optional skate meaning the team did not take line rushes so we do not know exactly where Mantha will slot in, but he was the second-line left wing prior to the injury.
Joe Snively will not play due to an upper-body injury. Laviolette declared him week-to-week on Wednesday. Also absent will be Carl Hagelin who suffered a severe eye injury in Tuesday's practice.
Goalie Vitek Vanecek will get the start, his first since Feb. 1. Backing him up will be Zach Fucale who the team called up Thursday. Ilya Samsonov took a shot up high during Wednesday's practice and left the ice. He came on the ice late Thursday for some work after the morning skate.
Justin Schultz, who has been dealing with an upper-body injury, is expected to play.