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Capitals Notebook: Ovechkin, Backstrom Reunite; Vanecek ‘Progressing’



Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin

After a day off on Friday, the Washington Capitals got back to work with a Saturday practice. And, with Alex Ovechkin drawing back in, the team is looking to turn things around in a Super Bowl Sunday tilt with the Ottawa Senators.

On the forward lines, Ovechkin didn’t go back with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson. Instead, he is reunited with Nicklas Backstrom and Conor Sheary on that top line. Joe Snively, who filled in alongside Kuznetsov and Wilson in Montreal, will remain with that combination.

Head coach Peter Laviolette didn’t make too many changes to the bottom six, having Daniel Sprong and Brett Leason interchange on the wing with Lars Eller and Connor McMichael while keeping the Carl Hagelin-Nic Dowd-Garnet Hathaway trio together.

Meanwhile, the team also got an encouraging sign as Vitek Vanecek took the ice for some solo work prior to practice. He did not stay on to practice with the team. Ilya Samsonov and Pheonix Copley were the two Capitals goalies in net.

READ MORE ON WHN: Snively’s Rise With Capitals Couldn’t Come At Better Time

Laviolette said it was good to see Vanecek out on the ice and that he is taking a step forward in his recovery. Vanecek is currently on the injured reserve after suffering an upper-body injury against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 1.

“He’s progressing,” Laviolette said. “He’s out on the ice. Not with us, so that’s still a step away.”

Washington hasn’t named a starter for Saturday. However, Ilya Samsonov is coming off a standout performance on Thursday in Montreal. He stopped 42 of 44 shots (.955 save percentage) en route to a vital 5-2 victory. He is 15-6-3 with a .905 save percentage and 2.85 GAA through 26 games this season.

Laviolette has a chance to hit 700 career victories behind the bench on Sunday. Alex Ovechkin said that the group is also looking to bring more consistency to the table.

“When you in a position of us-and-downs, you just have to find a way and try to get consistency,” Ovechkin said.

Puck drop against Ottawa is at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday at Capital One Arena.

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