Martin Erat returns to the Washington Capitals lineup Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The forward missed three games with a lower-body injury.
The Caps are going for their seventh victory in a row as Erat plays just his third game since being traded from the Nashville Predators at the deadline.
“It’s nice to see guys playing so well,” Erat said. “It’s nice to jump into a train when it’s going.”
Erat might have been able to return Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Caps have been hampered by injuries lately, losing forward Brooks Laich to a groin/lower-body injury and right wing Joel Ward to a bruised left knee.
But given the Caps’ success, Erat said: “It’s a great feelings when you don’t have to rush it and do some stupid thing to get back.”
Still, coach Adam Oates and his players are anxious to see what they can get from Erat.
“When he’s 100 percent he’s been a top-six forward in this league and I expect him to fit right in to our lineup,” Oates said.
Erat slides onto the second line alongside Mike Ribeiro and Troy Brouwer. Wojtek Wolski comes out of the lineup against Tampa Bay.
Laich is missing his fifth straight game and Ward his third. Braden Holtby gets the start in goal.
Here’s a look at the lines and pairings for Game 42 of the Caps’ season:
Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Alex Ovechkin
Martin Erat - Mike Ribeiro - Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera - Mathieu Perreault - Eric Fehr
Aaron Volpatti - Matt Hendricks - Jay Beagle
Karl Alzner - Mike Green
John Erskine - John Carlson
Jack Hillen - Steve Oleksy