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Capitals Notebook: Kuznetsov, Hagelin Available For Showdown With Penguins

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Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov

ARLINGTON, V.A. — The Washington Capitals breathed a sigh of relief on Friday, as Evgeny Kuznetsov and Carl Hagelin took the ice for the team’s morning skate prior to their tilt with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

Head coach Peter Laviolette said that he expects both Kuznetsov and Hagelin to be available for the game.

Hagelin missed Thursday’s practice with an illness, but his COVID-19 test came back negative. Kuznetsov skated but left early with what the team called a lower-body injury.

The Russian forward wouldn’t reveal what happened but said that he feels good.

“I just didn’t want to practice,” he joked.

READ MORE ON WHN: Capitals’ Wilson Earning Team Canada Consideration — And Rightfully So

Meanwhile, Nic Dowd, Garnet Hathaway and Trevor van Riemsdyk remain on COVID-19 protocol. Goalie coach Scott Murray also entered protocol on Thursday.

Here are what the lines looked like:

Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Tom Wilson

Carl Hagelin-Lars Eller-Conor Sheary

Mike Sgarbossa-Connor McMichael-T.J. Oshie

Beck Malenstyn-Aliaksei Protas-Brett Leason

Martin Fehervary-John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov-Nick Jensen

Matt Irwin-Justin Schultz

Ilya Samsonov will get the start. Vitek Vanecek will back up. Washington also recalled Zach Fucale from Hershey as a precautionary measure as they play back-to-back games against Pittsburgh and the Buffalo Sabres on Friday and Saturday.

In their last matchup on Nov. 14, the Capitals dominated for a 6-1 victory. Eleven different skaters picked up points, with Garnet Hathaway, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Alex Ovechkin, Conor Sheary, Daniel Sprong, Tom Wilson and John Carlson posting multi-point performances.

Another memorable moment came when Sidney Crosby made a questionable play and threw defenseman Martin Fehervary into the boards. Fehervary didn’t have much to say about the incident afterwards, nor did it really affect him. He was not hurt on the play.

“I don’t even know what should I talk about,” Fehervary had said. “I don’t care. We’ll see next game.”

Even Kuznetsov couldn’t say for sure whether the rivalry really still lingers between the clubs, stating that he and others see it as another game.

“I don’t know, man,” he shrugged, adding, “For fans, it’s a big deal, right? But us, as the players we always kind of been thinking about their team because they’ve been winning a lot, they’ve been playing good hockey. You know, for us, it’s very important to play well against them. If we can play against them well, that means [we’re] in good shape.”

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