Kings-Capitals: Washington Looks To Avenge Early Season Loss

Allen PopelsCorrespondent IFebruary 5, 2009

The Caps return home tonight to face an up-and-coming Los Angeles Kings team they know cannot be overlooked.  In November, the Kings upset them 5-2 during a four-game western road trip.

That game marked the beginning of one of the team's only slumps this season, largely due to the laundry list of injuries they began to accrue. 

Already missing winger Alex Semin and center Sergei Fedorov, the Caps played their first game without defenseman Mike Green, who was injured in the 6-4 win over Anaheim the previous night.

Fast forward to the present, the injury bug has bitten the Caps once again. After playing against the Red Wings and Senators over the weekend, with a completely healthy lineup for the first time since Nov. 6th, the team is now without two of its regulars.

According to Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post, Viktor Kozlov will not play tonight after tweaking his groin against the Devils. He'll join goaltender Brent Johnson on the sidelines, who is contemplating surgery on his injured hip.

Johnny had 34 saves on Sunday in a 7-4 triumph over the Senators, but once again aggravated the same injury that has plagued him for the past two months.

With Kozlov out of the lineup, the Caps will hope the recent offensive surge provided by Eric Fehr and Michael Nylander will continue.  Fehr, who has goals in back-to-back games, will replace Kozlov in the team's top line.  While Nylander, who has eight points in the team's last nine games, hopes he is on his way to regaining his old form.

"It's important how you feel inside," said Nylander, after he tallied two goals against the Devils. "And I feel comfortable. I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing, try to shoot more, go to the net more and things can happen."

The Caps already have seven players with double-figure goal totals. So if Fehr and Nylander can continue to produce, they'll give opposing teams the challenge of trying to stop three dangerous scoring lines.

The Kings are on an impressive run themselves having gone 5-2-1 in their last eight road games. With a win tonight they would have a winning record for the first time since Dec. 17.