Pregame primer: Caps need to shut the door

Pregame primer: Caps need to shut the door
February 4, 2014, 4:30 pm
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News and notes as the Capitals [25-22-9, 59 points] take on the New York Islanders [21-28-8, 50 points] tonight at Verizon Center [7:30 p.m., NBCSN]:

Playoff race: Ranked 12th in the Eastern Conference, the Caps can climb over two teams in the standings if they win and the Hurricanes and Senators lose. The Canes are home against Winnipeg. The Sens are visiting St. Louis.

Goalie matchup: The Caps’ Michal Neuvirth [4-5-2, 2.97, .910] will face the Isles’ Evgeni Nabokov [9-10-5, 2.83 GAA, .907]. In six career appearances against the Islanders Neuvirth is 5-0-0 with a 1.83 with a .933 save percentage. Nabokov is 12-2-3 with a 2.31 GAA, .919 save percentage and two shutouts in 17 appearances against the Caps.

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Shutting the door: The Caps blew three two-goal leads against the Red Wings on Sunday and Eric Fehr said that needs to be corrected if the Caps hope to make the playoffs. “If you look back throughout the season we’ve had a lot of leads that we didn’t get points in those games,” he said. “Hopefully, that doesn’t come back to bite us.” Caps coach Adam Oates said he wants the Caps to be a better shut-down team. “There are some teams that can, and you need to become one of those teams, for sure. Boston comes to mind. They’re built to only give up one goal and if they have the lead it’s going to be hard to get that one.” For the record, the Islanders lead the NHL with eight victories after trailing by two goals this season.

Trending: The Caps are 2-0 against the Isles this season and 17-5-3 against them since the 2007-08 season. The Caps are also 7-2-1 in their last 10 home games against New York.

Iron man Carly: Defenseman John Carlson will be playing in his 271st consecutive game, matching Caps assistant coach Calle Johansson for the longest streak by a Caps defenseman.

More milestones: Right wing Joel Ward’s next assist will be his 100th in the NHL. Center Nicklas Backstrom has 28 points in his last 28 games and ranks first in the NHL with 31 power-play points.

Special: The Caps’ power play is 6-for-18 in the past four games. The Caps are 22-4-4 when scoring three or more goals this season and 3-18-5 when scoring two goals or fewer. The Isles are 19-7-3 when scoring three or more and 2-21-5 when they don’t.

Respect the Isle: Oates said the first words out of his mouth Tuesday morning were to not take the Islanders lightly even though they are 14th in the conference with 50 points. John Tavares ranks second behind Sidney Crosby with 64 points [23 goals, 41 assists]. Kyle Okposo has 12 goals and 12 assists in his last 17 games. Matt Martin leads the NHL in hits [268], while Andrew MacDonald leads the league in blocks [185]. The Isles are 0-4-1 in their last five games but 9-3-0 in their last 12 road games.

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