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Caps' checking line becomes its scoring line

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Caps' checking line becomes its scoring line

Back in early January, with Jay Beagle recovering from hand surgery and Mike Richards adapting to a new team after signing as a free agent, Caps fans wondered which of the two would center the Caps’ third line once everyone was at full speed.

Marcus Johansson appears to have answered that question.   

Returning to the lineup after a four-game absence due to an upper body injury, Johansson fueled the Capitals to a 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena.

In 13:27 of ice time, Johansson netted one goal and assisted on goals by Tom Wilson and Justin Williams to help give the Caps their fourth straight win and their 39th victory of the season. Most importantly, he got the Caps’ third line humming again.

“Those two guys are easy to play with,” Johansson said of Chimera and Wilson, each of whom scored a goal. “We play a simple game, we move our feet and we got it going. It’s good to be back and there’s nothing better than being back and being a part of a win.”

The line of Chimera, Johansson and Wilson opened the scoring when Wilson fed Chimera for his 14th goal of the season and first since Jan. 29. Wilson made it 2-0 on another line rush, with Johansson threading a pass to him for a one-timer. It was Wilson’s first goal since Jan. 14, a stretch of eight games.

“He’s my best friend right now,” Wilson said of Johansson. “He gave me an unbelievable pass. It’s nice to have Marcus back. We have so many good players in this locker room. Jojo, Chimmer and I have kind of a weird, good chemistry going. I don’t know what to credit it to, but that’s an all-time pass he gives me there and I was lucky enough to put it in.”

Johansson’s return illustrated how much the addition of his speed and creativity makes the Capitals a more balanced and dangerous team.

“We’re hard on ourselves,” Wilson said. “We want to produce and chip in. Late in the game they turned the puck over and Chimmer was right in front of me looking for a breakaway or 2-on-1  and I didn’t give him the puck and he let me hear it on the bench. … I think that’s why Chimmer’s mad. He wanted to have two tonight and the rest of us had one.”

Despite their offense, Chimera, Wilson and Johansson might have done their most important work with about 2:30 remaining in the game when they helped preserve a one-goal lead with a dominant shift against the Predators’ top line, keeping goaltender Pekka Rinne from leaving his crease for an extra attacker.

“It was huge for us,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “That was their big line going head-to-head. The other team was trying to get their goalie out and we did a good job there.”

Capitals goalie Braden Holtby, who stopped 23 shots to improve to 34-5-3, agreed.

“When you get a shift like that it shows the composure we can have,” he said. “It gave them no breathing room at a very important time of the game. I’ve said it a million times, we get different performances from people every night.”

MORE CAPITALS: Capitals Rewind: Johansson leads Caps in return

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Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 4: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

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USA Today

Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 4: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

The preseason continues after the Capitals' loss in Montreal last night. They are hoping to gain some momentum and dominate at tonight's game.

Even without the home advantage, they hope to take home a win as they face the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Hurricanes are one of the four teams the Capitals will face in preseason play, along with the Bruins, Canadiens and Blues.

The Capitals and Hurricanes will meet once again, next Friday at Capital One Arena. But first, it's time to get back on the ice for Game 4 of the seven-game preseason schedule.

 

CAPITALS-HURRICANES PRESEASON GAME 4: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina

When: Friday, September, 21, 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Hurricanes preseason game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

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

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

CAPITALS-HURRICANES PRESEASON TV SCHEDULE:

7:00 PM: Washington Capitals: My Day with the Cup (R)
7:30 PM: NHL Preseason: Capitals @ Carolina Hurricanes 
10:00 PM: Caps Postgame Live (LIVE)

 

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4 players who impressed in Capitals preseason loss in Québec City

4 players who impressed in Capitals preseason loss in Québec City

Thursday’s game in Quebec City got off to a rough start for the Capitals. Washington gave up 13 shots on goal before they finally got their first late in the first period. Even worse, they yielded the first four goals in what would end up being a 5-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

But it wasn’t all bad.

After going down 4-0 at the start of the second, the Caps finally woke up with two goals of their own and put together a much better effort from that point on.

Here are the players who really impressed from Thursday’s loss.

Connor Hobbs

If there’s one thing Hobbs is known for, it is his monster slap shot. Because of that, his wrist shot is often overlooked, but he is very adept at both and, something that impressed me when he was playing junior hockey for the Regina Pats, he always seems to know when to use which shot.

On the power play, Brett Connolly fed Hobbs at the top of the face-off circle and he had nothing but room in front of him. Rather than rush a slap shot, Hobbs showed some patience, lined up his shot, and fired the wrister to beat goalie Charlie Lindgren.

No one was particularly sterling defensively in a game in which Washington gave up five goals, but in the third period, Hobbs was able to poke check the puck away from a streaking Matthew Peca to prevent a scoring opportunity.

Jayson Megna

Megna is the only Caps player to appear in all three of the team’s preseason games and he may be playing his way at least into the conversation for sticking around in Washington. Where he stands out the most is on the penalty kill. Todd Reirden wants the team to be more aggressive with a man down, and Megna really seems to have embraced that philosophy. He had a great shorthanded opportunity in the second period and had another scoring chance later in the frame in which he hit the post.

The reality is that Megna remains a longshot to make the roster, there are just too many bodies competing for too few spots, but Megna has shown at the very least that it is too early to count him out.

Axel Jonsson-Fjallby

On Tuesday, Jonsson-Fjallby played alongside Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie which gave many hope for a big offensive performance. He was largely unnoticeable in that game, however, managing only one shot on goal and did not seem all that comfortable until the third period. He was much more comfortable on Thursday and had a much more noticeable impact on the game.

Jonsson-Fjallby’s best asset is his speed and that was on display in Quebec City, especially on the penalty kill.

In the third period, Jonsson-Fjallby pressured Lindgren into a quick pass as the netminder retrieved the puck behind the goal line. He then chased down the puck carrier, stole the puck and fired a quick backhander for the shorthanded chance. Later in the third period, Jonsson-Fjally pounced on a lazy pass to launch himself on a shorthanded breakaway.

Jonsson-Fjallby is most likely not going to be a top-six NHL player, but he still has NHL speed and Thursday’s game showed how he can make his mark in the NHL as a very effective and dangerous penalty killer.

Alex Ovechkin

The Great 8 has literally nothing to prove in the preseason. Nothing. But for the last few years, every season has started with a discussion about whether or not this season will mark the beginning of Ovechkin’s decline.

In his preseason debut, Ovechkin got his first shot on goal in the second period and it ended up in the back of the net. Ovechkin’s one-timer looked as dangerous as ever as he cranked one from the office for the power play tally.

Ovechkin is going to face a lot of goalies who are a lot tougher to beat than Lindgren this season, but that one-timer looks like it is already in midseason form.

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