With the assignment of Chris Bourque to Hershey this week, the battle for the final forward spot on the Capitals’ roster was reduced to three: Cody Eakin, Mattias Sjogren and Mathieu Perreault.

Upon sending Bourque down, Coach Bruce Boudreau explained the move.

“It’s really simple. We know what we have in Chris Bourque; I’ve seen him for five years,” Boudreau said Thursday. “We could call Chris up tomorrow, and we know what we’re going to go. Those guys will probably play at least one more game, and we’ll make a decision.”

(In a related note, Bourque along with defensemen Sean Collins and Patrick McNeill all cleared waivers and will report to Hershey.)

Eakin is expected to face Buffalo on Friday night, playing on the third line between Jason Chimera and Joel Ward while Sjogren likely will be scratched. Asked if each would appear in one of the two remaining preseason games, Boudreau said he wasn’t sure.

Tonight will be an important game for Eakin as he lines up with what could be two-thirds of the Capitals’ third line. If he works well between Chimera and Ward, he will give the Washington brass more to think about when making the choice.

“I don’t think too much about it,” Eakin said. “I know it’s a good opportunity for me to play with some veteran players. They’ll be helping me out and guiding me in the right direction; hopefully we can make some plays.”

Then there’s Mathieu Perreault, who has been “banged up” and missed the past two days of practice after playing in Nashville on Wednesday night. Boudreau said the absences won’t be especially damaging to the speedy center’s chances of remaining in Washington.

“I think we know enough of Matty. . . . Another day isn’t going to change the way we feel about him,” Boudreau said. “We just want him to be ready to hopefully play on Sunday. So, I don’t think it hurts him, no. We’re hoping he’ll be back skating [Saturday]; if we want him to play Sunday, he’ll have to skate tomorrow.”