News and notes as the Capitals finish up their morning skate at Kettler Capitals Iceplex and prepare for tonight’s Game 4 at Verizon Center [6:30 p.m. pregame, CSN, 7:30 puck drop, NBCSN]:
Alex and those smelling salts: You may have noticed the NBCSN cameras catching Alex Ovechkin sniffing smelling salts before every game. It’s something he’s done his entire NHL career. Why?
“It’s like when you get knocked down or something they give you that kind of stuff,” Ovechkin said. “Try it, maybe you won’t sleep during the game. It wakes you up a little bit to get ready for the game. It’s nothing special.”
Players’ choice: Ovechkin said being nominated by his peers for the Ted Lindsay Award as the NHL’s Most Outstanding Player means more to him than being nominated by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association for the Hart Trophy.
“In my opinion, yeah, because the players play against you,” said Ovechkin, who was nominated along with Canadiens goalie Carey Price and Stars forward Jamie Benn. “I think it’s a little bit bigger.”
Fehr back, but not in: Caps center Eric Fehr, injured in Game 3 against the Islanders in Round 1, skated with the team but did not participate in line rushes. He is listed as out for tonight but could return as early as Game 5 on Friday night in New York. Center Michael Latta sat out Wednesday’s skate with an illness.
Game 4 history: The Capitals are 19-17 all-time in Game 4 of playoff series and 9-7 at home. When leading a series 2-1, the Caps are 10-7 in Game 4s. Ovechkin has five goals and seven assists in 10 career Game 4s. Nicklas Backstrom has five goals and four assists in nine Game 4s and Braden Holtby is 3-1 with a 1.92 GAA and a .941 save percentage in his career in Game 4s.
With or without you: According to Elias Sports Bureau, before this season the Capitals were 21-61-15 in the regular season and 3-11 in the post-season when Ovechkin and Backstrom played and did not record a point. This season, they went 11-8-3 when Ovechkin and Backstrom did not record a point and are 2-1 in the playoffs.
Holt-beast: Monday night’s 1-0 win over the Rangers was the Caps’ third 1-0 win in franchise playoff history. Olie Kolzig made 16 saves in the Capitals’ 1-0 win against Pittsburgh on April 12, 2001, and Holtby made 24 saves on May 4, 2013, against the Rangers. Holtby ranks first among active NHL goaltenders [minimum 20 games played] in career playoff goals-against average [1.89] and save percentage [.936]. In addition, Holtby has registered a 1.54 goals-against average and a .949 save percentage this postseason, ranking first in the NHL in both categories [minimum five games].
Here are projected lineups for Game 4:
Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Joel Ward
Marcus Johnasson – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Jason Chimera
Andre Burakovsky – Jay Beagle – Troy Brouwer
Curtis Glencross – Brooks Laich – Tom Wilson
Brooks Orpik – John Carlson
Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen
Tim Gleason – Mike Green
Braden Holtby – Justin Peters
Scratches: C Michael Latta, D Dmitry Orlov
Injuries: Eric Fehr [upper body, day-to-day]
Rick Nash – Derrick Brassard – Marty St. Louis
Chris Kreider – Derek Stepan – J.T. Miller
Carl Hagelin – Kevin Hayes – Jesper Fast
James Sheppard – Dominic Moore – Tanner Glass
Ryan McDonagh – Dan Girardi
Marc Staal – Kevin Klein
Keith Yandle – Dan Boyle
Henrik Lundqvist – Cam Talbot
Scratches: D Matt Hunwick, D Chris Summers
Injuries: Mats Zuccarello [head, indefinite]