Pregame primer: Erat, Orlov await return

Pregame primer: Erat, Orlov await return
November 30, 2013, 4:15 pm
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Washington Capitals left wing Martin Erat (10), of the Czech Republic, looks on during the first period an NHL hockey game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

News and notes as the Capitals [13-11-2] visit the New York Islanders [8-15-3] tonight at Nassau Coliseum [7 p.m., CSN-plus]:

Erat, Orlov get the call: With forward Brooks Laich still ailing with a lower body injury and Alex Urbom fresh off Friday night’s benching, forward Marty Erat and defenseman Dmitry Orlov are expected to return to the lineup tonight. Erat, who has zero goals and six assists, has missed three straight games since asking Caps GM George McPhee for a trade. Orlov, whose agent has asked for a trade, has not played for the Caps this season. Erat is expected to center a fourth line with Aaron Volpatti and Tom Wilson. Orlov, who has spent most of his career playing on the right side, will play on the left side of right-handed defenseman Tyson Strachan on the third pairing.

[RELATED: Michal Neuvirth will not travel with Caps after pregame injury]

Holtby gets another start: Braden Holtby [11-8-1, 2.68, .923] will make his fourth straight start for the Caps, playing his third game in four nights. Holtby’s 35 saves Friday night night marked the ninth time in Holtby’s last 11 starts he has recorded 30 or more saves. In his last 11 starts, Holtby is 7-3-1 with one shutout, a 2.44 GAA and a .930 save percentage. Holtby ranks fourth in the NHL in saves [639]. In his 11 wins this season, Holtby has posted a 1.85 GAA and a .947 save percentage.

Struggling Isles: The Islanders have lost fivre straight and 10 of their last 12. They are coming off Friday night’s 5-0 home loss to the Red Wings. The Islanders are 2-13-0 when allowing the first goal. The Caps have been outscored 25-21 in third periods; the Isles have been outscored 30-15 in third periods.

Special teams: The Caps are ranked fourth on the power play [23.5 percent]; the Isles are ranked 21st [16.7]. The Caps have fallen from first to 14th on the penalty kill [83.2 percent]. The Islanders are 30th [71.8].

Tavares watch: Isles center John Tavares ranks fifth in the NHL with 29 points [11 goals, 18 assists]. Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo, each with 22 points, are also off to strong starts.

On an Island: The Capitals and Islanders meet for the second time this season. Alex Ovechkin has 34 points [21 goals, 13 assists] in 30 career games against the Islanders. Marcus Johansson has one goal and five assists in his last four games against New York. Tonight’s game marks the 195th regular-season meeting between the Capitals and Islanders. The Penguins [201] and New York Rangers [198] are the only teams to play more regular-season games against the Caps.

Metro showdown: The Caps defeated the Isles 6-2 on Nov. 5 at VerizonCenter. The Capitals have won four of their last five games against Metropolitan Division foes.

[RELATED: Grabovski, Fehr help lead Caps past Montreal]

Here are tonight’s projected lineups:

CAPITALS

Forward lines

Marcus Johansson – Nicklas Backstrom – Alex Ovechkin

Eric Fehr – Mikhail Grabovksi - TroyBrouwer

Jason Chimera – Jay Beagle – Joel Ward

Aaron Volpatti – Marty Erat – Tom Wilson 

Injury: Brooks Laich [lower body]

Defense pairings 

Karl Alzner – Mike Green

Nate Schmidt – John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov – Tyson Strachan 

Healthy scratches: Alex Urbom, Steve Oleksy

Goaltenders

Braden Holtby [starter] – Philipp Grubauer

ISLANDERS

Forward lines

Thomas Vanek – John Tavares – Kyle Okposo

Josh Bailey – Frans Nielsen – Michael Grabner

Pierre-Mar Bouchard - PeterRegin – Cal Clutterbuck

Matt Martin – Casey Cizikas - Colin McDonald

Healthy scratch: Eric Boulton

Defense pairings 

Andy MacDonald – Travis Hamonic

Thomas Hickey – Calvin de Haan

Aaron Ness – Matt Carkner

Healthy scratch: Radek Martinek

Goaltenders

Anders Nilsson [starter] - Kevin Poulin