COLUMBUS, Ohio - Frans Nielsen has been playing through a lower-body injury for nearly five weeks, and managing his workload between games has been almost as important as managing his play in the games.

Nielsen left practice early on Wednesday but felt good enough to play Thursday night. Since suffering the injury against the Canucks on Feb. 22, Nielsen has missed only one of the next 17 games.

"Cappy has been real good with me about it," Nielsen said of coach Jack Capuano, who sounded vague about Nielsen's status when he addressed the media as the Isles skated Thursday morning. "He's really let me decide when I need to skate, when I need to pull back a bit. I think we've gotten it under control."

Nielsen had three goals and three assists in the previous 11 games, so he's been effective while dealing with the problem.

Capuano gave Eric Boulton his first game since March 5 and scratched Tyler Kennedy. Capuano said Michael Grabner was well enough to play after suffering from the flu last week, but he still chose Boulton.

"We need that emotion on the bench, on the ice," Capuano said. "That's what Boults brings."

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Isles sign college goalie

Goalie Stephon Williams, the Isles' 2013 fourth-round pick, signed a two-year contract that will begin next season and reported to Bridgeport. The 21-year-old had a stellar junior season for Minnesota State-Mankato, which came into the NCAA hockey tournament as the top seed but was upset in the opening round by RIT. Williams went 25-6-3 with a 1.65 goals-against average and .925 save percentage.