For the second time in three games, forward Dustin Penner will be scratched from Adam Oates’ lineup as the Capitals look to keep their slim playoff hopes alive tonight against the New York Islanders [5 p.m., CSN].
With Penner relegated to the press box, Aaron Volpatti draws back into the Washington lineup after missing 21 games with an upper-body injury. Volpatti last played on Feb.2 against the Detroit Red Wings and has two goals and 49 PIMs in 40 games this season.
Penner, who was also scratched Tuesday against the Dallas Stars with an undisclosed health issue, played a season low 6:12 last night and picked up a third period interference penalty as the Capitals fell 2-1 against the New Jersey Devils.
Penner was acquired by the Capitals on March 4 from the Anaheim Ducks with the expectation that he could provide an offensive spark among Washington’s top six forwards.
Instead, the two-time Stanley Cup champion has managed just one goal and two assists in 14 games, while skating primarily on Washington’s fourth line.
"At this time of year, individual points mean less and team points mean way more," Penner said March 15. "The only way individual points help now is for teams that aren't in it and guys [who] need contracts."
Three weeks later, the Capitals’ playoff chances are as dim as they have been at any point this season, and Penner, a pending unrestricted free agent, remains without a deal for next season.
The Capitals enter play this evening in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, four points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card position with five games remaining.