Game 26 Preview: New York Islanders at Washington Capitals

Dave Nichols@@DaveNicholsDSPSenior Analyst IDecember 4, 2008

The Washington Capitals (13-9-3-29, first in Southeast) host the New York Islanders (10-12-2-22, fifth in Atlantic) for the first of four contests this season at 7:00 pm from Washington's Verizon Center.

The Capitals find themselves in the midst of their first extended slump of the season, losers of five of their last seven games, all in regulation time. On Tuesday against Florida, Washington suffered its first home regulation loss of the season, breaking a 16 game streak dating back to last year's playoff run.

Injuries and lost man-games seem to have caught up to the Capitals, and there does not appear to be any relief on the horizon. All of DC's walking wounded will miss the tilt with the Islanders, and the team does not expect any to return for the weekend either.

In fact, the Caps made another call-up from AHL's Hershey squad, center Keith Aucoin. Aucoin, 30, was the AHL's leading scorer with nine goals and 27 assists in 24 games, and he will center Tomas Fleischmann and Viktor Kozlov on the second line tonight.

Washington currently has five players skating that started the year in Hershey, including four of their six defensemen.

Fleischmann has been hot of late and his 10 goals are good for third on the team.

Brent Johnson (5-4-3, 2.81, .909) will start for the Caps between the pipes.

The Islanders have split their last four games, most recently defeating Ottawa 4-2 Saturday night. Trent Hunter is the top goal scorer with 10 (10-9-19, -3), and Doug Weight (5-17-22, -2) and Bill Guerin (9-7-16, -6) providing support. Defenseman Andy Sutton (+5) is the only regular to have a positive plus/minus rating.

Joey MacDonald will start in goal for New York. He has played fairly well since replacing injured goalie Rick DiPietro this season. MacDonald is 10-9-2 with a 2.89 GAA and .907 save percentage.
SPECIAL TEAMS

WAS: PP-10th (21.0%, 22/105); PK-25th (78.0%, 27/123)
NYI: PP-16th (17.9%, 20/112); PK-12th (82.5%, 20/114)

INJURIES

WAS: D John Erskine (Concussion-Questionable); C Sergei Fedorov (Ankle-Out); D Tom Poti (Groin-Out); RW Chris Clark (Forearm-Out); D Mike Green (Shoulder-IR); D Jeff Schultz (Finger-IR); LW Alexander Semin (Back-IR); D Brian Pothier (Concussion-Out)

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

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