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Holtby back in net as Capitals face Islanders on road

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Holtby back in net as Capitals face Islanders on road

The Capitals (41-10-4, 86 points) travel to Brooklyn to face the New York Islanders (30-19-6, 66 points) tonight at Barclays Center (6:30 p.m. pregame, CSN). Here are our AAA Keys to the Game:

Return of Holtby: Braden Holtby (35-6-3, 2.16 GAA, .926 SP) returns after a one-game, four-day break and says he’s feeling strong after the break.

“It’s a little weird having practice where you feel fresh and have energy,” said Holtby, who is likely to start each of the next six games. “It’s kind of nice to work on a few things and now it’s back to work.”

Holtby was pulled after allowing four goals in the second period of the Caps’ 4-3 loss in Dallas on Saturday and has allowed three or more goals in each of his last three starts after.

“I don’t know if that’s him or us,” Caps coach Barry Trotz said. “I want to put it on us. When we weren’t so sharp he was very sharp. … I’m not blaming Holts at all. He’s saved our can a few times this year.”

Where the Caps stand: The Caps have won six of their last seven games and hold a five-point lead on the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL standings, a 14-point lead on the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference and a 16-point lead on the Rangers in the Metro Division.

Where the Islanders stand: The Islanders sit third in the Metro Division, but are just one point ahead of the seventh-place Devils, and two ahead of the eighth-place Penguins and ninth-place Lightning. The Isles have won three of their last four.

Season series: The Caps have won both meetings, winning 4-1 in Brooklyn on Jan. 7 and 3-2 Feb. 4 at Verizon. Alex Ovechkin provided the winning goal in both games and has 28 goals and 43 points in 39 career games against the Isles.

In addition to leading the NHL with 1,662, the Isles have nine players with 20 or more points, led by center John Tavares, who is tied for the team lead in goals (21) and leads the team with 46 points.

“They’re deep,” Caps coach Barry Trotz said. “They have a lot of people who can hurt you. Their defense can really shoot it and they play hard every night. We respect the Islanders and how hard they play. We know it’s going to be a battle.”

Special teams: The Caps rank first in the NHL on the power play (23.7 percent) but went 0-for-5 against the Kings on Tuesdayand have just three power-play goals in their last nine games (3-for-33). The Islanders rank 10th on the power play (19.8 percent) and have notched a power-play in six straight games (7-for-22). The Caps are fifth on the penalty kill (84 percent), while the Isles rank second (87 percent).

Kuz control: With his fourth game-winning goal of the season on Tuesday Evgeny Kuznetsov now has 20 points in his last 14 games (3 goals, 17 assists).

Bura-cuda: Andre Burakovsky’s two points against the Kings gives him 17 points in his last 14 games (8 goals, 9 assists). He has at least one point in 12 of his last 14 games.

Chim dog: It was an empty netter but Jason Chimera now has scored a goal in three of his last four games.

Mojo rising: Marcus Johansson has earned four points in his last four games (1 goal, 3 assists) and has been a force on the Caps’ third line between left wing Jason Chimera and right wing Tom Wilson.

“He’s done a terrific job,” Trotz said. “There are little plays coming into his game that are really important. He’s given us a good defensive line; he’s given us a good offensive line. Marcus has grown in a lot of ways and it gives us a lot of flexibility.”

Shot machine: Ovechkin’s 10 shots against the Kings marked the fourth time this season he has tallied 10 or more shots in a game.

[RELATED: NFL receiver Roddy White tweets he's an Ovechkin fan]

Here are projected lineups for both teams:

CAPITALS
Forward lines

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie  
Andre Burakovsky - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams  
Jason Chimera - Marcus Johansson - Tom Wilson  
Brooks Laich - Mike Richards - Michael Latta  

Defense pairs

Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner  
Nate Schmidt - John Carlson  
Brooks Orpik - Dmitry Orlov  

Goaltenders

Braden Holtby  (starter) - Philipp Grubauer  

Injured: Jay Beagle (upper body) 
Scratched: Stanislav Galiev    


ISLANDERS 
Forward lines

Mikhail Grabovski - John Tavares - Ryan Strome  
Nikolay Kulemin - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo  
Anders Lee - Brock Nelson - Josh Bailey  
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck  

Defense pairs

Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk  
Brian Strait - Travis Hamonic  
Thomas Hickey - Marek Zidlicky  

Goaltenders

Thomas Greiss  (starter) -  Jaroslav Halak  

Injured: Calvin de Haan (lower body), Eric Boulton (lower body), Adam Pelech (upper body) 
Scratched: Jean-Francois Berube, Steve Bernier  

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Capitals vs. Panthers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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Capitals vs. Panthers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Washington Capitals (3-2-1, 7pts) are coming off of an overtime thriller at home over the Rangers thanks to Matt Niskanen's crafty timing.

Through the first six games of the season, Washington is undefeated on Wednesdays, yet has failed to win consecutive games. The Caps hope to change that trend Friday night at home vs. the Florida Panthers (0-2-2, 2pts).

The Panthers have yet to win a game this season, with each of the four games being decided by just one goal. The Panthers have no problem scoring, netting at least five goals in two of the first four games, but have failed to seal the deal. This is where the defending Stanley Cup champions will need to capitalize.

Only the Maple Leafs (33) and Hurricanes (33) have scored times more than the Capitals (24). Washington has a clear advantage in firepower. The biggest key to victory is keeping the space in front of Braden Holtby clean as a whistle. If the Caps control their goalmouth, they should have no issues dispatching the Panthers.

Here is everything you need to know about the Friday night game, which takes place at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington. 

CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Florida Panthers

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: Friday, October 19, 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Panthers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

Live Stream: Watch Capitals vs. Panthers on the NBC Sports Washington live stream page and the NBC Sports MyTeams App.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS-PANTHERS TV SCHEDULE:

6:00 PM: Caps FaceOff Live
6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live
7:00 PM: NHL: Florida Panthers at Capitals 
9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live
10:00 PM: Caps Overtime Live

CAPITALS vs. PANTHERS INJURY REPORT:

Capitals: Travis Boyd (OUT, IR), Tom Wilson (OUT, Suspension)

Panthers: Michael Haley (OUT, Leave of Absence), Roberto Luongo (OUT, MCL injury), Mike Matheson (OUT, Suspension) 

CAPITALS vs. PANTHERS PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Evgenii Dadonov, W, Panthers: Dadonov is leading the Panthers this season with two goals and two assists on the season.

John Carlson, D, Capitals: Carlson had a heck of a game vs. the Rangers Wednesday night with a goal and two assists. The Capitals practiced faceoffs in practice leading up to Wednesday night's game and all of the practice paid off with Carlson's goal coming right off the faceoff from Backstrom. 

CAPITALS vs. PANTHERS SERIES HISTORY

Number of all-time Meetings: 123

All-Time Series Record: 64-50-9

Playoff Record: N/A

Last Meeting: Panthers beat Capitals 3-2 (2/22/2018)

Last 10 Meetings: Tied 5-5 

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

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What’s next for Capitals' Tom Wilson?

What’s next for Capitals' Tom Wilson?

On Thursday, Tom Wilson appealed his 20-game suspension to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. So what happens now?

Wilson was suspended 20-games for a hit he delivered to St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist in the preseason. The NHLPA filed an appeal on Wilson’s behalf which led to his hearing on Thursday.

There is no specific timeline on when Bettman will issue a decision so for now, Wilson will have to wait.

When a decision is reached, he will have two options of how to proceed. First, he can accept the commissioner’s decision and serve whatever suspension remains. As of Thursday, he has currently served six games out of the original 20-game suspension.

Wilson also has the option of a second appeal. For suspensions of six games or more, a player can file a subsequent appeal to a neutral arbitrator. The arbitrator is given authority to issue a ruling based on whether the league’s finding of a violation of the rules and the penalty imposed were both supported by substantial evidence, meaning both the hit itself and the length of suspension will be reviewed.

This can be a lengthy process.

The most recent example of a player appealing to a neutral arbitrator is Nashville’s Austin Watson. He was suspended 27 games by the NHL on Sept. 12 for domestic assault. On Oct. 12 an arbitrator reduced the suspension to 18 games.

Given the serious nature of domestic assault, it should be noted that Wilson and Watson’s respective transgressions are in no way comparable. This example is used merely to illustrate how long the process can take.

Another example is that of Dennis Wideman who was suspended 20 games in 2016 for hitting and injuring a referee. His suspension was ultimately reduced to 10 games by an arbitrator, but by that time he had already served 19 games.

Wilson will remain suspended throughout the appeals process.

Obviously he would like to return to the ice as quickly as possible, but even if his appeal drags out and Wilson is forced to sit for most or all of those 20 games, he still can recoup some of the money he will forfeit from this suspension (over $1.2 million) which will make the arbitrator’s decision still relevant for him personally.

Should Wilson serve the full 20-game suspension, he will be eligible to return to play on Nov. 21 when the Caps host the Chicago Blackhawks.

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