Connect with us

Washington Capitals

Laviolette Blows Up Capitals Lines In Loss, Sends Loud Message To Team

The Washington Capitals lines saw a major shakeup in the team’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Head coach Peter Laviolette explains.



WASHINGTON — For the first time in a long time, Nic Dowd took the ice without Garnet Hathaway on his wing, as head coach Peter Laviolette blew up the Washington Capitals line combinations on Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres.

Dowd ended up centering a line with T.J. Oshie and Sonny Milano, while Garnet Hathaway went to work with Dylan Strome and Marcus Johansson. Meanwhile, Evgeny Kuznetsov moved up to work with Alex Ovechkin and Conor Sheary, while other combinations got some looks to in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres that was described as "inconsistent," "ugly" and "uncharacteristic."

Head coach Peter Laviolette said those changes were made to ignite some kind of spark for his team,, as the offense was underwhelming and didn't get much going while there were several holes in the defensive coverage to start against Tage Thompson and the high-flying Sabres.

"It just wasn't clean, it wasn't good. We weren't generating enough," Laviolette said. "We were on our heels and so whatever we were doing in the first 22 minutes or whatever it was, 24 minutes, it wasn't generating. It wasn't working. You can go in with a plan, but if the plan isn't working, you gotta move it."

The tweaks worked and injected some life into the lineup, as Ovechkin struck twice thanks to a clean faceoff win from Kuznetsov and a great play in front of the net from Sheary. Then, Dowd scored his 10th goal of the season, cashing in on a rebound off a Milano shot. Milano had a goal and assist, and that line did a good job generating some pressure on the forecheck.

"Kuzy and O, they have enough with Shears to know that they can play together," Laviolette said. "The Dowd-Oshie-Milano line produced a big goal for us."

Milano agreed with Laviolette, saying that the changes sent a clear message and led to the team picking up the pace following the rough start.

"Sometimes that kind of wakes the guys up, too, you know?" Milano said. "I was with Osh and Dowder, and those are two hard-working guys. I definitely got some chemistry with them."

It was enough to get Washington four goals and earn the team a point, but a costly turnover behind the net in overtime led to a 5-4 loss.

"[The turning point] was when we start play hard, we start put puck deep, forechecking well," Ovechkin said. "It kind of opens up in the offensive zone, more time. How I said, we have very good chances right away in the second period."

The Capitals held an optional skate on Wednesday as they hit the road for the first game of a back-to-back against the Columbus Blue Jackets, so it's unclear if these lines will stick. However, it certainly did the trick to help the club extend its point streak to eight games.

"If it's dead and it's not working, you gotta move it," Laviolette said of the changes.