Within the last week, the Washington Capitals have lost to the best team in both the Western and Eastern Conference, respectively: the Vancouver Canucks and Philadelphia Flyers. On Thursday night on Long Island, the Capitals will not face one of the NHL's elite, but a pesky New York Islanders team that has recently given them more than they bargained for.
The Caps defeated the Islanders 2-1 in their only previous meeting of the season October 13, but the two teams have gone to overtime five times in their last nine games against each other. It might be best for the Capitals to avoid overtime this time around; they are just 6-8 in overtime this season and have lost three straight games after 60 minutes.
Washington has been dealing with a revolving door of injuries all season, but Michal Neuvirth has been added to the list. Neuvirth left Tuesday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Flyers because of a lower-body injury that sent him back to Washington for further evaluation. The Caps are already without Alexander Semin, Eric Fehr, Tom Poti and Matt Bradley, but Semyon Varlamov should be ready to play Thursday after head coach Bruce Boudreau gave him a maintenance day. In Neuvirth's absence, the Caps recalled Braden Holtby from AHL Hershey.
Meanwhile, the islanders are hoping that one of their star players will finally return from injury. Kyle Okposo could make his season debut Thursday after missing three months following shoulder surgery in September. Okposo scored 19 goals and added 33 assists in 80 games for the Islanders last season.