Cal Clutterbuck activated off IR; Otto Koivula out with lower-body injury

Dallas Stars v New York Islanders
Dallas Stars v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The Islanders are winning games and slowly getting healthier.

New York Islanders winger Cal Clutterbuck was activated off of injured reserve (IR) on Saturday and is expected to play against the Washington Capitals later tonight at UBS Arena.

The 35-year-old mainstay on the Islanders' fourth line has missed the last 20 games with an upper-body injury and has three different injury stints this season after being shut down last March to have shoulder surgery, although this year's injuries have been unrelated. For the season, Clutterbuck has four goals and four assists in 34 games.

"It's been a tough year in terms of some of the injuries," head coach Lane Lambert said of Clutterbuck per "He works his way to get back and then gets injured again and it's just because he plays hard and he does the right things. When he comes back, that's what we look for out of him, and he'll continue to do that. He's physical, and he's a good penalty killer, so he certainly will add to our team."

Otto Koivula
Buffalo Sabres v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The immediate question of who Clutterbuck will replace in the lineup was made easy when we learned that center Otto Koivula will miss tonight's game with a lower-body injury. Koivula, who has shuffled back and forth between Bridgeport in recent seasons, has two assists in eight games this season and has been playing some of his better hockey at the NHL level during this recent call-up.

The islanders take the ice on Saturday night in the top Wild Card spot after their thrilling 4-3 overtime win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night. The Caps, who once held that position are now seven points behind the Islanders with just one game in hand as the organization sold off some pieces and the deadline and Alexander Ovechkin missed some time following the passing of his father. It's a must-win for Peter Laviolette's team as they try to remain in playoff contention.