On Friday afternoon, the Capitals recalled forward Anthony Peluso, giving them an extra forward with Connolly not expected to play. Top-line center Nicklas Backstrom missed Thursday’s game with an illness, and with the team enjoying an off day Friday in Edmonton, it’s unclear whether he’ll be healthy enough to play against the Oilers. The Capitals have lost their past two games and four of their past five.
Connolly plays on Washington’s third line, and he scored his only goal of the season in the Capitals’ season opener at Ottawa. After he scored a career-high 15 goals and adding eight assists last year, the Capitals were hopeful Connolly would again bring that kind of production to the bottom half of the lineup.
Washington was the healthiest team in the NHL last season with just 49 man-games lost to injury, but three players — Andre Burakovsky (thumb), Matt Niskanen (hand) and Tyler Graovac (“upper body”) — didn’t travel with the team on this three-game Western Canada trip because of injuries. Graovac was placed on injured reserve Friday to clear a roster spot for Peluso.
Connolly’s possible concussion is another hit to a Capitals team that has struggled with secondary scoring through the first 10 games of the season. Entering its game against Edmonton, Washington has received five goals from its bottom-six forward corps.
One of those came from Chandler Stephenson on Thursday night, when he made his season debut and scored the first NHL goal of his career in the third period. The Capitals lost, 6-2, but Stephenson’s tally was a bright spot, and it’s expected to keep him in the lineup against the Oilers.
It’s unclear whether Peluso will have an opportunity to play for the Capitals. He’s known more for the physical presence he can provide to a lineup, having scored just four goals in 142 NHL games. Peluso has appeared in three American Hockey League games this season for Hershey and has yet to record his first point.
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