Nathan Horton to Miss His First Game of Season with Mild Concussion As Bruins Take on Washington

The Bruins will play their final game before the All-Star break and their first game this year without Nathan Horton on Tuesday in Washington.

Horton did not participate in the morning skate after being diagnosed with a mild concussion suffered on a hit from Flyers forward Tom Sestito on Sunday in Philadelphia. Horton has played all 46 games so far this year with 17-15-32 totals, but will not be in the lineup in Game 47 against the Capitals.

"He's doing as good as he can for a guy with a mild concussion," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after the morning skate. "He didn't skate today. He's still suffering from mild headaches and concussions are what we've always talked about as day-to-day. Hopefully by the end of this five-day break we'll have the news that we want to hear."

Rich Peverley is expected to move up into Horton's spot on the right wing alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic, with Zach Hamill returning to the lineup in Peverley's spot on the third line with Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot.

The Bruins will also be without defenseman Andrew Ference, who is serving the second game of his three-game suspension for a hit on Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh. Steven Kampfer will remain in the lineup replacing Ference. Dressing for the first time since Dec. 14, Kampfer played just six shifts totaling 3:15 on Sunday.

Julien didn't reveal his starting goaltender for the night, but Tuukka Rask is likely to get the nod. Rask would have been in line for the start anyway after Tim Thomas played Sunday and surrendered a season-high five goals before the Bruins prevailed 6-5 in a shootout, but it may not be a bad decision to keep Thomas out of the spotlight a day after his controversial decision to boycott the club's White House visit.

Thomas did not speak with reporters after the skate, while Julien bristled at having to answer questions about the situation and how it might affect the team's chemistry moving forward.

"I think our group is all mature enough to look past that," Julien said. "Obviously our group was very proud and honored and privileged to have gone to the White House. That's our view. We don't mix politics with hockey. In this dressing room here, our job is to win hockey games and to win hockey games as a team. That's what we are and we'll continue to do that.

"I don't think I want to stand here and answer these questions today when we have Washington [Tuesday]," Julien added when pressed. "Our biggest concern right now is about winning this hockey game. … It's unfortunate what happened [Monday]. It's the reality of the world and we're a team thinking as a team right now."

The Capitals will be shorthanded as well, with star forward Alex Ovechkin out after receiving a three-game suspension of his own for a head shot on Pittsburgh's Zbynek Michalek on Sunday. Leading scorer Nicklas Backstrom also remains out with a concussion and top defenseman Mike Green is sidelined after abdominal surgery.

Despite those absences, Julien is still wary of Washington's offensive firepower.

"We know they're a good offensive team, and whether they're missing Ovechkin, whether they're missing a few players, they still have enough on their roster to score goals," Julien said. "That's been their strength for years. Missing a few players is not going to stop them from scoring goals. So we have to be good defensively and continue to play our game."

Tomas Vokoun (19-12-0, 2.55 GAA, .917 save percentage) is expected to be in goal for Washington.

Chris Lee and Dan Van Massenhoven will be the referees, with Steve Milker and Greg Devorski working the lines.

Projected Bruins lines
Forwards
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Rich Peverley
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot-Chris Kelly-Zach Hamill
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton

Defense
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg-Joe Corvo
Steven Kampfer-Adam McQuaid

Goalies
Tuukka Rask
Tim Thomas

Scratches: Andrew Ference (suspension), Nathan Horton (concussion)

Projected Capitals lines
Forwards
Marcus Johansson-Mathieu Perrault-Alexander Semin
Matt Hendricks-Brooks Laich-Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera-Jeff Halpern-Mike Knuble
Cody Eakin-Jay Beagle-Joel Ward

Defense
Karl Alzner-Dennis Wideman
Roman Hamrlik-John Carlson
John Erskine-Dmitry Orlov

Goalies
Tomas Vokoun
Michal Neuvirth

Scratches: Alex Ovechkin (suspension), Nicklas Backstrom (concussion), Mike Green (abdominal surgery), Jeff Schultz

Have a question for Douglas Flynn? Send it to him via Twitter at @douglasflynn or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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