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Johansson probable to play against Coyotes despite illness

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Johansson probable to play against Coyotes despite illness

Marcus Johansson missed morning skate due to an illness, but head coach Barry Trotz called him "probable" for Monday's game against the Arizona Coyotes.

"We expect him to show up tonight and be ready to go," Trotz said. "Just that he felt a little under the weather this morning."

Mike Richards took Johansson's place on the third line at the morning skate while Andre Burakovsky practiced on the team's first power play unit. In the event that Johansson is not able to play, Trotz said that Richards would be the most likely to move to the third line.

Johansson has cemented himself this season at the third-line center position between Jason Chimera and Tom Wilson. That was especially evident when Johansson was forced to miss four games with an upper-body injury and the third line, centered by Richards, did not register a point in his absence. Johansson had three points in his return on Feb. 9 against Nashville, but has hit a dry spell recently with only one point in his last five games.

For his part, Richards said that if called upon, he hopes to build upon the chemistry he developed with Chimera and Wilson when he was first moved to the third line and that he would be ready to play in whatever position the team needs come game time.

"You just play your best whatever position you're put in," Richards said. "Doesn't matter which line you get put in, it's just how you play."

RELATED: Analyzing Kuznetsov's 'reverse wraparound'

NOTES:

-There is still no timetable for Jay Beagle's return. When asked, Trotz said, "He's got to see the doctor. That'll be him and the doctor. I do know this that he will not play tonight."

-Trotz has not yet determined how he will use Michael Latta once Beagle does return to the lineup saying it "depends on the team, situation." With Beagle, Richards, Johansson, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov, Latta will likely be used sparingly as a center down the stretch. Trotz metnioned that Latta was trying to adjust to playing wing on a more regular basis.

Lines at morning skate:

Forwards

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams

Andre Burakovsky - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie

Jason Chimera - Mike Richards - Tom Wilson

Brooks Laich - Michael Latta - Stanislav Galiev

Defensemen

Nate Schmidt - John Carlson

Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen

Brooks Orpik - Dmitry Orlov

Extra: Taylor Chorney

Goalie

Braden Holtby first off the ice

MORE CAPITALS: Could Backstrom play with Forsberg in the World Cup?

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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

You may think this was an ugly four-game road trip for the Caps, but with a 3-2 win in Buffalo on Monday, Washington managed to earn five out of a possible eight points.

Here is why the Caps beat the Sabres and managed to save the road swing.

A missed high-stick (maybe) from Ovechkin

Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game in the second period as he deflected a high-shot from Christian Djoos down past goalie Chad Johnson. But did the deflection come on a high stick? The play was reviewed and the goal was ultimately upheld. According to the NHL, it was determined that "video review supported the Referee's call on the ice that Alex Ovechkin's stick was at or below the height of the crossbar when he tipped the puck into the Buffalo net."

NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May broke the play down during the second intermission and made his case for why the NHL actually got the call wrong.

Was that a high stick? I don't know. As compelling an argument as May made, it still looks inconclusive which means the review made the right call. What surprises me is that the referee did not disallow the goal on the initial call.

Whether the review is truly inconclusive or flat out wrong, Washington was fortunate to walk away from this sequence with the goal.

MORE CAPITALS: BIZARRE SEQUENCE LEADS TO CAPS SCORING AND GETTING PENALIZED AT THE SAME TIME

A centimeter of ice

Hockey is a game of inches and it took less than an inch to put Washington up 2-0. When an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot hit off the boards and bounced back to the front of the net, it sparked a scrum next to goalie Chad Johnson. Eventually, John Carlson was able to get a swipe on the puck sending it trickling to the goal line, but Kyle Okposo was there waiting and appeared to kick it out to safety just before it crossed. A review triggered by the Situation Room, however, revealed that the puck had just barely managed to cross the goal line before Okposo got to it.

Here's the view the NHL released after the review:

Philipp Grubauer's third period

After dominating the first 40 minutes of the game and taking a 2-0 lead, Buffalo predictably made a late push in the third period with two goals to pull within one. Washington outshot the Sabres in the first and second periods, but Buffalo reversed that trend in a big way in the third as they outshot the Caps 17-6. Grubauer turned aside 15 of those shots and was impressive after barely being tested in the first two periods.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FROM CAPS-SABRE

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3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

Coming off an ugly 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, a Buffalo Sabres team missing star Jack Eichel was just what the doctor ordered for the Caps to get back on track. Washington dominated the first two periods and then survived a late surge from Buffalo for the 3-2 win.

After battling to a scoreless first, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson spotted Washington a 2-0 lead in the second. They then held on in the third period as Buffalo began to tilt the ice in their favor, with Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring the empty-netter to put this game out of reach. Evander Kane would pull Buffalo within one, but with only three seconds left it was too little, too late.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin opened up the scoring in the second period as he deflected down an innocent shot from Christian Djoos past Chad Johnson.

Ovechkin also set a physical tone as he battled with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen all game long. After taking a high elbow from Ristolainen early in the game Ovechkin skated up to Ristolainen prior to the faceoff on his next shift and let him know that it was on. 

2. John Carlson: Carlson had a hand in both of Washington's first two goals. He recorded a secondary assist on Ovechkin's goal as he made a blue line pass to Djoos which Djoos fired on net and Ovechkin deflected. Carlson then managed to hit the puck past the goal line in a scrum next to Johnson. It looked initially like Kyle Okposo had managed to kick out the puck just before it crossed, but Carlson was awarded the goal as a review showed the puck had completely crossed the line.

3. Philipp Grubauer: A Sabres team that ranks last in the NHL in scoring and that was also without its leading scorer did not test Grubauer much in the first two periods. Facing a 2-0 deficit, however, Buffalo made a third period push to try to tie the game, but Grubauer was up to the task as he turned aside 15 of the 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes. He finished with 32 total saves on the night.