With the Washington Capitals looking to rebound from a third-period collapse against the Florida Panthers that led in a 5-4 loss on Tuesday, they saw some shuffling and positive signs at their morning skate ahead of Thursday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
T.J. Oshie was skating prior to practice in a non-contact jersey, and Conor Sheary and Nicklas Backstrom were also on the ice in non-contact jerseys. All three appear to be on a good path toward recovery.
Meanwhile, Justin Schultz was back in action in a full-contact jersey and completely participating in line rushes. He was back on the third pairing with Trevor van Riemsdyk. Right now, he’s still on the injured reserve but is eligible to be activated for Thursday’s showdown.
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On the forward lines, head coach Peter Laviolette made a couple of tweaks. Daniel Sprong, who had been a healthy scratch for the last couple of games, was back in on the second line with Lars Eller and Tom Wilson. Meanwhile, Connor McMichael shifted down to the all-rookie fourth line, taking Mike Sgarbossa’s place at center with Beck Malenstyn and Brett Leason on the wings. Washington’s other lines stayed intact.
Taking that into account, here were the lines:
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Aliaksei Protas
Daniel Sprong-Lars Eller-Tom Wilson
Carl Hagelin-Nic Dowd-Garnet Hathaway
Beck Malenstyn-Connor McMichael-Brett Leason
Martin Fehervary-John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov-Nick Jensen
Trevor van Riemsdyk-Justin Schultz
Vitek Vanecek will get the start in net, per head coach Peter Laviolette. His last start came against Seattle on Nov. 21 to close out the Capitals West Coast swing. He stopped 26 of 30 shots (.867 save percentage).