The Washington Capitals are looking to make it three straight wins and sweep the season series when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes for the third time in the month of March, and it looks like could see some big lineup changes to boot.
Based on the Capitals’ morning skate lines, it appeared that Dowd was potentially ready to return. The 31-year-old center has missed the last four games with an upper-body injury that he suffered on March 18 in a shootout win over Carolina. With Dowd potentially back, the forward lines saw a bit of a shakeup, as the first line was broken up, Lars Eller shifted completely and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby drew out.
However, after practice, head coach Peter Laviolette wouldn’t confirm if Dowd was in, and he ended up staying on for extra work, suggesting he may not play.
Here were the combinations at Monday’s practice, per NBC Sports Washington’s JJ Regan:
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Tom Wilson
Anthony Mantha-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Lars Eller-Connor McMichael-Marcus Johansson
Conor Sheary-Nic Dowd-Garnet Hathaway
Martin Fehervary-John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov-Nick Jensen
Michal Kempny-Justin Schultz
After his first couple of games operating on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, Marcus Johansson will shift to the bottom-6 to work with Eller and Connor McMichael. McMichael has flourished at the center position, and the team will see Eller shift to the wing as a result.
Meanwhile, Washington is keeping its second line together, as it has been a powerhouse and even better with Oshie back for his second straight game after another injury. Conor Sheary, meanwhile, continues to showcase his versatility and will slot in on the fourth line. On the blue line, Michal Kempny will stay in for Trevor van Riemsdyk. TVR is still on the injured reserve and is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
Matt Irwin and AJF are the extras.
Vitek Vanecek will get the start, per head coach Peter Laviolette. Ilya Samsonov will back up. In his last and only career game against Carolina back on March 3, Vanecek posted a 36-save shutout.
Players to watch include Kuznetsov, who is on a 12-game point streak, and Ovechkin, who has goals in six of his last seven games and 10 goals in his last 12 games overall. Also, Tom Wilson is on a four-game point streak, while Anthony Mantha has points in three straight outings. On the Carolina side of the matchup, Sebastian Aho continues to lead the team in scoring and is on a three-game point streak of his own, along with Teuvo Teravainen.