Banged-up Cap face challenge from Avs

The Washington Capitals were going to face a challenge playing at altitude Friday night, but the task is even tougher if they are missing some key players.

Forward T.J. Oshie could be out for the game at the Colorado Avalanche after taking a hard hit by Winnipeg defenseman John Morrissey on Wednesday night. Oshie, who has suffered four concussions in his career, was thrown backwards onto the ice in the final minute.

Capitals coach Todd Reirden didn’t have an update on Oshie but felt the NHL should examine the play.

“It’s something I think the league is going to look at,” Reirden told The Washington Post. “It’s similar to a situation that happened in Vancouver earlier in the year — a vulnerable player that’s thrown to the ice… We’ll see and check in on T.J. I have not talked to our trainer since the end of the game, so I’m not sure exactly where things stand with him.”

The NHL did punish Morrissey with a $8,467.74 fine for unsportsmanlike conduct on Oshie.

Washington (8-7-3) has lost three of its last four, including two at home before leaving for a four-game road trip. In addition to losing Oshie, leading scorer, center Evgeny Kuznetsov, left Wednesday’s game with a possible concussion in the first period.

The Capitals didn’t practice Thursday so there was no update on their injuries.

Washington is going to need everyone to go against the Avalanche’s top line. Mikko Rantanen (a goal and two assists), Nathan MacKinnon (a goal and an assist) and Gabe Landeskog (one goal) combined for six points in a 6-3 comeback win over Boston on Wednesday night. The trio is the highest scoring line in the NHL while Rantanen leads the NHL in points.

They’ve been a big reason Colorado (9-6-3) is scoring at a high rate this season.

“Saying the same thing after every game it feels like, but it’s a pretty good line to play with,” Rantanen said after the win over the Bruins.

Wednesday’s win was Colorado’s second in a row after a five-game losing streak. That streak started when Calgary rallied from three goals down in the third period to win in regulation.

The Avalanche had a third-period rally to beat Boston and a win over the Capitals would give them a boost going into a three-game road trip next week. While the top line has been consistently producing this season, Colorado is starting to get more secondary scoring. Alexander Kerfoot, Tyson Jost and Matt Calvert also had goals Wednesday.

It was Jost’s second in three games since returning from a head injury.

The Capitals are going to see a familiar face Friday night. Goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who signed with Colorado after helping Washington win the Stanley Cup last season, is slotted to start in net.

The Avalanche’s defensive unit has also been a positive. The addition of Ian Cole this summer has given Colorado some depth and championship experience on the blueline. Cole won two Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh.

“If you look at the way he plays and the way he carries himself, every practice and every game there’s an intensity and there’s a sturdiness to his game,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar told reporters Wednesday. “There’s an attention to detail, too, that I think a lot of our guys can look at and try to emulate.”