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Weber preparing to replace Schmidt on Caps' blue-line in Game 4

Weber preparing to replace Schmidt on Caps' blue-line in Game 4

PITTSBURGH -- Left wing Marcus Johansson is expected to be in the lineup tonight in Game 4 when the Capitals look to even their second-round playoff series against the Penguins at Consol Energy Center.

So is defenseman Mike Weber, who told he will be in the lineup tonight against the team he grew up watching. Weber is expected to replace Nate Schmidt, who was a minus-1 in Monday night’s 3-2 loss in Game 3.

While most of his teammates participated in an optional morning skate on Wednesday, Johansson played a spirted game of soccer knockout with teammates T.J. Oshie and defenseman Matt Niskanen.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz said Johansson will be “available” to play tonight but said reporters would need to wait until warmups to see if Weber, who grew up in nearby Cranberry Township, would be in the lineup. Weber is expected to be paired with Taylor Chorney, while Dmitry Orlov, who was benched in Game 2, is expected to be paired with John Carlson.

“I was born here and raised here, but I want to compete for the Stanley Cup, so any game it’s nice to get in,” Weber told “It’s nice to be able to compete with my teammates here.”

As for Schmidt, who logged 13:31 of ice time in Game 3 and was on the ice for Carl Hagelin’s goal, Trotz said he’d like to see better decision making from the 24-year-old blue liner.

“You have to be acute at this time and I didn’t think we were as good in that,” Treotz said. “We don’t have time to pat the guy on the back. You just move on. …  Nothing’s personal; it just needs to be done and you have to make those tough decisions.”

Trotz said he thought Weber was “real solid defensively” in his only playoff appearance this post-season, a series-clinching 1-0 win over the Flyers in Round 1.

Trotz on Letang: Asked his reaction to the one-game suspension issued to Penguins defenseman Kris Letang for his open-ice hit on Johansson, Trotz replied: “My reaction to the suspension is the league dealt with it and he’s not playing today so we have to take advantage of them missing a real terrific defenseman.”

With Letang out of the lineup it appears defensemen Justin Schultz and Derrick Pouliot will make up the Penguins’ third defense pairing, and Brian Dumoulin will be paired with Trevor Daley on the Pens’ top unit.

“All of us D men have to step up,” said Schultz, who has not played since Game 1 of the first round. “He’s a hard man to replace. I don’t know if you can replace him.”

Dumoulin said all of the Penguins’ blue liners need to be aware of the Capitals’ strong forecheck, especially after seeing the Caps deliver 58 hits in Game 3, nine of them from Alex Ovechkin.

“He’ll definitely take that extra step and try to finish you and we have to be aware of that,” Dumoulin said. “We know he’s going to finish sometimes a little high, too. We’ve got to be prepared and brace ourselves for those hits.”

Fehr out? Penguins forwards Eric Fehr and Bryan Rust did not participate in the Pens’ optional morning skate and both could be out of the lineup tonight, with Oskar Sundqvist and Tom Sestito possible replacements.

Sundqvist, 22, is a 6-foot-3, 209-pound Swede with one career playoff game. Sestito, a hard-hitting, glove-dropping, 6-foot-5, 228-pounder from Rome, N.Y., also has one game of NHL playoff  experience.

In 141 career NHL games Sestito has 41 fights and 451 penalty minutes.

“We’ll have to keep our heads up,” Capitals right wing Andre Burakovsky said.  

Goalie carousel: Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said he’ll go with Matt Murray as his starting goaltender for Game 4, even though Marc-Andre Fleury appears to be ready to return from a concussion.

"Matt is obviously playing really good hockey right now and Marc is trying to establish his game and hasn't played in a while,” Sullivan said. “With as well as Matt is playing, common sense would suggest that we should probably stay with him. Having said that, we think we have two really good goalies that we can rely on to help us win." 

[RELATED: Mike Weber 'wanted to be a Penguin,' but now wants to beat them]

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Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

USA Today Sports

Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pa.

When: 5:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Flyers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Flyers game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.


The Capitals (41-23-7) take on the Flyers (36-25-11) Sunday, March 18 at 5:00 p.m. ET in Philadelphia.


The Capitals-Flyers game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

4:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
4:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
5:00 p.m. — Capitals at Flyers
7:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
8:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
9:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


The Capitals-Flyers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov considered day-to-day, will miss Sunday's game in Philadelphia

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Evgeny Kuznetsov considered day-to-day, will miss Sunday's game in Philadelphia

Evgeny Kuznetsov has been declared day-to-day with an undisclosed upper body injury, the Caps announced Saturday afternoon.

He will not play Sunday against the Flyers, marking the first time in four seasons that the durable 25-year-old center will have missed a game.

Kuznetsov, the Caps’ assists leader and first line pivot over the past week, was injured in the second period of Friday’s 6-3 win over the Islanders. On the play, he slashed on the arm by New York defenseman Thomas Hickey before he tumbled awkwardly into the end boards.


Kuznetsov did not return to the contest.

The Caps did not practice on Saturday as they made their way to Philadelphia, where they'll look to extend their winning streak to five games.  

The team, per usual, did not elaborate about the extent or nature of Kuznetsov’s injury. But it does seem to be a good sign that he was not listed as week-to-week—the designation the Caps typically reserve for more severe injuries. And with a two point lead on Pittsburgh in the Metro Division standings—and a game in hand—they can actually afford to be cautious with one of their most important players.


The injury does, however, come at a time when Kuznetsov appeared to be hitting his stride. Including the two assists he had racked up prior to leaving Friday’s game, Kuzy has amassed five goals and 11 assists in 10 games.    

Without Kuznetsov on Sunday, Nicklas Backstrom, Lars Eller and Jay Beagle will be the team’s most experienced centers. Travis Boyd and/or Chandler Stephenson figure to be deployed as the fourth pivot.

Coach Barry Trotz is expected to meet with reporters prior to Sunday’s game. It’s possible he’ll shed some more light on Kuznetsov’s outlook at that time.

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