The Islanders are expecting forward Colin McDonald back in the lineup for Thursday’s game against the Hurricanes in Carolina, and he couldn’t be welcomed any sooner.

After Tuesday night’s disheartening 6-2 loss to the Capitals at the Verizon Center, coach Jack Capuano was rather pointed about shaking up his lineup and how that could positively affect his team moving into the second leg of this four-game road trip.

“We have some options as far as the forwards go,” said Capuano, who before the game all but guaranteed McDonald’s reinsertion after now missing five straight with a left-hip injury. “We have to figure out the combinations that we think are going to generate.”

The Islanders (6-6-3) were quite a letdown after taking a weekend sweep over two good teams in the Senators and Bruins. Yet the Capitals (8-7-0) scored four power-play goals, which Capuano said was the reason his team lost.

But he also pointed to his offense not generating enough, especially the line of Frans Neilsen, who was flanked by Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Josh Bailey.

“I didn’t particularly like 51’s line,” Capuano said, referring to Nielsen by jersey number. “I don’t think it generated a whole lot. If you’re going to play a top-six role in this league, you have to generate some chances. I just didn’t see it tonight. We need more out of that.”

McDonald originally hurt the hip while hitting Eric Nystrom of the Predators in a game on Oct. 12, and missed the following game against the Sabres. Yet he rushed to get back in the lineup, and played the next four games without the same intensity.

“I can say this now, that I probably jumped back too quickly,” McDonald said. “I just didn’t want to get taken out of the lineup, to be honest. I’d never really been hurt before, and I wasn’t sure how to handle it. Yeah, just I’m assuming any day now.”

McDonald would likely take out rookie Brock Nelson, who played just 8:46 while on a fourth line with Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas. Of course, there are other options – including Bouchard, who was already a healthy scratch on Oct. 12, his fifth game with the team.

“For me, evaluating our play tonight, I don’t think a couple of our lines generated what they should have,” Capuano said. “That’s a little bit more concerning for me than anything else.”