WASHINGTON — For the majority of Monday's game between the Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings, Aliaksei Protas was watching the action from the bench.
The 6-6 forward got just six shifts and skated a total of 5:16 minutes in the 4-3 comeback overtime win over the Red Wings. He did not play after the 5:50 mark of the second period.
However, head coach Peter Laviolette said it wasn't anything against Protas.
"I wouldn't read much into that," Laviolette said. "We were behind, we were chasing the game. He's been such. good player for us, I would not read too much into that."
Washington was down 2-0 after a lackluster first period and got two goals in 11 seconds from Nic Dowd to tie it and then another game-tying goal from Erik Gustafsson before Dmitry Orlov finished things off in overtime.
To try and ignite a spark, Laviolette put Alex Ovechkin, who is still on the hunt for record-breaking goals No. 801 and 802, out on multiple lines, as he stayed with Dylan Strome and Conor Sheary and also got time with Evgeny Kuznetsov, with either Marcus Johansson or Sonny Milano on the other wing. Ovechkin led all forwards with 24:31 minutes.
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As a result, some players got less time, and Protas took the biggest impact, as he saw linemates Dowd and Garnet Hathaway go out with a red-hot Nicolas Aube-Kubel.
"I shortened the bench. I was double-shifting O, I was trying to get players more out there if I could," Laviolette explained. "If you're chasing the game, sometimes that happens."
Protas made the opening night roster after a stellar showing at training camp and has since been working to prove he can be an NHL regular. He has yet to be a healthy scratch this season. The 6-6, 235-pound winger has three goals and four assists for seven points through 34 games so far, including two assists in his last five games, and he can fit anywhere in the lineup as well.