With their playoff position set, the Caps have decided to rest several veterans against the Florida Panthers on Sunday night, Coach Barry Trotz revealed a couple of hours before the regular season finale.
Sitting out will be forwards Justin Williams, T.J. Oshie and Brett Connolly as well as defensemen Matt Niskanen and John Carlson.
Each of them has missed at least one game this season for health reasons. Connolly missed Saturday's game in Boston with an illness, while Carlson has missed three games with a lower body injury.
The players who are sitting out aren’t injured, but Trotz hinted that they’ve got some bumps and bruises that could benefit from a game off.
And with nothing to be gained against the Panthers, who have been eliminated, that made Sunday the perfect day to take a break.
“No one is totally okay at this time,” Trotz said.
“But if we have a choice to give them a little break, we chose to give them a break.”
Trotz also said that goalie Braden Holtby will start the game but will give way to backup Philipp Grubauer after two periods.
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In their first game against the Bridgeport Tigers to kick off the 2019 Calder Cup playoffs, the Hershey Bears lost blueliner Aaron Ness to a serious injury in the third period.
After Travis St. Denis put pressure on Ness from behind, Ness lost an edge and slid into the goal post and then crashed head-first into the boards, where he was seemingly knocked unconscious. He laid motionless for a few moments as he received attention from medical personnel.
The 28-year-old was stretchered off the ice and transported to Bridgeport Hospital, where he underwent further evaluation. Bears play-by-play announcer Zack Fisch later reported through Dan "Beaker" Stuck that Ness was awake and alert at the hospital and getting x-rays, according to Chocolate Hockey.
The Bears posted an update on Twitter Saturday in regards to his status, saying that he is in stable condition and is expected to be released. It's unclear when he will return to action, but it likely won't be anytime soon.
Ness, one of Hershey's six alternate captains, had 50 assists and 55 points in 71 games with the Bears in the regular season. He has three points in 18 games up in the NHL with Washington.
After the Sound Tigers tied the game following the Ness injury to force OT, Kieffer Bellows scored in double overtime to lift Bridgeport to a 3-2 win to take Game 1 of the series.
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There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the Game 3 fight between Hurricanes rookie Andrei Svechnikov and Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin. Finally, though, Svechnikov shared his side of the story Saturday.
The Russian forward returned to the ice for the Hurricanes' morning skate prior to Game 5, then told the media that Ovechkin was the first to ask him to fight before the two dropped the gloves. They exchanged a couple of punches before Ovechkin knocked out Svechnikov, which ultimately put him in concussion protocol and kept him out of the lineup.
"He ask me first for fight," Svechnikov told Tom Gulitti of NHL.com. "I'm not a superhero, ask first for fight... I said yes. I just want to stand up for myself."
Sara Civ, The Athletic's Hurricanes beat reporter, also said that Ovechkin apologized to Svechnikov after the game.
Svechnikov is hopeful to return to Game 6, but will not return to the lineup Saturday. Gulitti reported that he was in a yellow (probably non-contact) jersey and was sporting a full cage at practice.
Washington and Carolina square off for Game 5 at 8 p.m. Saturday on NBC.
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