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Capitals Game Day: Vanecek Starts, Sheary Hopeful For Matinee vs. Bruins

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Capitals forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Conor Sheary

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After a rough go-of-it just a week ago, the Washington Capitals are looking for their third straight win that could further shake up the East playoff picture when they close out a weekend back-to-back against the Boston Bruins on Sunday.

Washington (39-22-10) recovered from a tough start in Pittsburgh for a big 6-3 victory over the Penguins on Saturday, moving the team four points out of third place in the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals are in for another challenge against the Bruins (45-21-5), who are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games. Boston sits third in the Atlantic Division.

Vitek Vanecek will get the second game of the back-to-back and start against the B’s following a solid performance from Ilya Samsonov on Saturday, who was perfect through the final two periods against Pittsburgh. In nine games against Boston in his career, Vanecek is 4-4-0 with a .895 save percentage and 3.18 GAA.

Meanwhile, Conor Sheary is at Capital One Arena after missing Friday’s practice and Saturday’s road game with a non-COVID illness. Head coach Peter Laviolette told the media pregame that Sheary will take warmups and that he is hopeful for Sunday’s showdown. And if No. 73 does draw in, he will be back on the top line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin.

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It’s unclear who will draw out if Sheary does return, as Connor McMichael has been playing well at 3C and Lars Eller has been proving to be a good fit on the fourth line wing with Nic Dowd and Johan Larsson following Garnet Hathaway’s absence on Wednesday. However, given the lineup, it wouldn’t be surprising to see McMichael draw back out.

Here were Saturday’s lines:

Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Garnet Hathaway

Anthony Mantha-Nicklas Backstrom-Tom Wilson

Marcus Johansson-Connor McMichael-T.J. Oshie

Lars Eller-Johan Larsson-Garnet Hathaway

Martin Fehervary-John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov-Nick Jensen

Trevor van Riemsdyk-Justin Schultz

When it comes to players to watch, keep an eye on Alex Ovechkin, who has points in three straight and goals in back-to-back outings. He is now at 44 goals this season and sits 26 away from 800, 28 from passing Gordie Howe for second all-time and 121 away from breaking Wayne Gretzky’s all-time record. Also look for Tom Wilson, who is one point away from hitting a single-season total of 50 points for the first time in his career.

On the Bruins side of the matchup, Patrice Bergeron will be dangerous. He has points in seven of his last eight games, with 11 points over that span.

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