CAPITAL ONE ARENA — With the holidays approaching, the Capitals’ fourth line has been the gift that keeps on giving.
Given injuries on the forward lines, head coach Todd Reirden put Nic Dowd, Chandler Stephenson and Dmitri Jaskin together on the fourth line, looking to spark offense and chemistry between the three forwards. So far, he’s seen just that.
“They’re committed to playing the way that our entire team needs to play to have success,” Reirden said. “Every line has a little different skill level and chemistry to it. They’re really understanding how their line can have success.”
The trio has combined for nine points in their last five games and has been one of Washington’s strongest combinations recently. Though they’re a fairly new line, Stephenson explained why they’ve been able to develop a connection quickly.
“I think we’ve been playing together enough that we’ve just found chemistry and we’re just starting to get a feel for each other a little bit more and how one another plays and just rolling right now and having fun with it,” Stephenson said.
Dowd has three goals in his last four games and points in four of his last five and Stephenson scored his first goal in 20 games in Sunday’s 6-5 loss to Anaheim. Jaskin also has three assists in his last three games.
The fourth line has been able to play a solid two-way game also, maintaining possession, but controlling the puck when they’re on the ice. That’s really what has helped them incorporate more offense into their game.
“I just think when we’re on the ice, all five guys are playing well and we’re getting out of our defensive zone. We’re not spending a lot of time down there and we’re giving ourselves opportunity in the [offensive] zone,” Dowd said. “I think what’s basically changed is we’re holding onto more pucks and creating more opportunities and we’re getting rewarded for it.”
Overall, the Capitals’ offense has been surging of late, scoring at least three goals per games since Nov. 16, and the fourth line has since been playing a bigger role in that. Washington will need that to continue as they embark on a three-game road trip, starting against the Vegas Golden Knights Tuesday.
“They put the work in, they put the time in, they don’t play an easy, flashy game,” Reirden said. “They put the pucks to the net when they have opportunities and sometimes bounces will go your way…That line did some good things for us [Sunday] and they have throughout the last six, seven games in particular. That was a good, positive thing to see.”
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