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Capitals Make Lineup Changes, Seek Spark, Answers Amid Slide

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Capitals defenseman Dennis Cholowski

The last stretch has been less than ideal for the Washington Capitals, who have dropped five of their last six decisions and find themselves in a Wild Card spot. In turn, they made some more moves to try to get a spark and find some answers.

With T.J. Oshie out and John Carlson and Conor Sheary on COVID-19 protocol, Washington has to make do yet again with a shorthanded roster. It proved to be an issue on Sunday when the Capitals’ lack of offense at 5-on-5 proved costly in a 4-2 loss. Now up against another Canadian opponent in the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, head coach Peter Laviolette decided to shake things up.

Garnet Hathaway moved from his signature combination with Nic Dowd and Carl Hagelin up to the first line with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, who had been playing with Oshie, Tom Wilson and a number of other rotating wingers so far this season. With Hathaway moving up, Brett Leason took his spot on the fourth line.

Meanwhile, Laviolette went back to a combination that has proven to work on the second line, putting Wilson, Aliaksei Protas, Nicklas Backstrom and Wilson together. Connor McMichael, Lars Eller and Daniel Sprong made up the third line.

READ MORE ON WHN: Backstrom Discusses Recovery, Progress Since Returning For Capitals

However, the most notable change was on the blue line. With Carlson out, the Capitals had to adapt on defense and saw a number of players in the top-6 rotation move around — and one name draw back in.

Dennis Cholowski appears set to return to action for the first time since Dec. 17 in Winnipeg, where Washington pulled off one of its best wins of the season. No. 38 has played in just five games for the Capitals this season, recording an assist, seven blocks, three hits, two PIM and a +/- of -2.

With Cholowski slotting in, Matt Irwin comes out of the lineup. Meanwhile, Justin Schultz earned a promotion to the top pairing and will take Carlson’s place alongside Martin Fehervary. Dmitry Orlov and Nick Jensen will reunite to boot.

Here are what the lines looked like at the morning skate, per NBC Sports Washington’s JJ Regan:

Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Garnet Hathaway

Aliaksei Protas-Nicklas Backstrom-Tom Wilson

Connor McMichael-Lars Eller-Daniel Sprong

Carl Hagelin-Nic Dowd-Brett Leason

Martin Fehervary-Justin Schultz

Dmitry Orlov-Nick Jensen

Dennis Cholowski-Trevor van Riemsdyk

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