The Islanders may have escaped another injury to their identity-setting fourth line.
Coach Barry Trotz indicated on Wednesday he expects right wing Cal Clutterbuck to be available for Thursday’s Game 5.
The Islanders lead the best-of-seven, first-round series, 3-1, but Clutterbuck exited Tuesday night’s 3-2 loss as Capitals defenseman Radko Gudas upended him with a low check at 15:25 of the second period.
The Islanders did not practice on Wednesday.
“Pretty well everybody is available,” Trotz said. “With Cal, I talked to him. He seems pretty good to go. I don’t see any issue right now.”
The fourth line was intact for only 19 of 68 regular-season games as both Clutterbuck (30 games) and center Casey Cizikas (13 games) missed extensive time after being lacerated by skate blades.
“We want to be on the ice together,” said left wing Matt Martin, who missed nine games early in the season with a leg injury. “Hopefully, he’s all right.”
The Capitals’ regulars did not practice on Wednesday, but No. 1 center Nicklas Backstrom skated with the extras and he remains a game-time decision for Game 5. Backstrom has not played since Islanders captain Anders Lee’s check knocked him into concussion protocol in the first period of Game 1. Backstrom also skated with the extras prior to Game 4.
“It’s a positive sign he’s on the ice again today,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden said.
Paying his respect
Trotz grew up just outside of Winnipeg and was coaching locally in Manitoba when Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk, who passed away Tuesday at age 57 because of stomach cancer, was starring for the original Jets.
“I know how revered Dale is in the Winnipeg community,” Trotz said. “He was a low-maintenance superstar. He never wanted a lot of attention. He may have been a way better player than he gets credit for.”