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Capitals Game Day

Capitals Game Day: Vanecek Starts, Three Out As Lineup Shuffles vs. Stars

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Former Capitals netminder Braden Holtby and Alex Ovechkin

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As has been the case more than once before in this 2021-22 campaign, the Washington Capitals are “working through things” in the room and face some key absences as they prepare for an early afternoon tilt with the Dallas Stars.

T.J. Oshie, Nic Dowd and Trevor van Riemsdyk are all out against Dallas. Oshie suffered a lower-body injury against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday and missed Friday’s tilt with the Carolina Hurricanes while being listed as day-to-day. Meanwhile, Nic Dowd and Trevor van Riemsdyk left Friday’s game early with undisclosed ailments.

With questions at forward, Washington recalled Brett Leason from Hershey on Sunday, while re-assigning Mike Vecchione to the Bears. Vecchione played in one game during his call-up, skating 5:06 minutes and generating three shots against Carolina while filling in for Oshie. Leason, meanwhile, has six points in 35 games up at the NHL level this season.

On a brighter note, Lars Eller is no longer on COVID-19 protocol and is available to play on Sunday. Per Laviolette, Eller skated on his own on Saturday. He had been quarantining in Vancouver after testing positive while the team was returning to the States following their Canadian road trip.

With key names missing, here are the lines:

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When it comes to the goaltending situation, there was an easier answer there. Vitek Vanecek will get the start, as to be expected. The Czech netminder has been stellar between the pipes of late, winning six straight starts. Since Jan. 1, he has boasted a .928 save percentage, good for fifth among all NHL goaltenders. Through 31 total outings in 2021-22, he is 16-7-5 with a .919 save percentage and 2.35 GAA.

For players to watch, keep an eye on Evgeny Kuznetsov, who is riding an eight-game point streak, and Alex Ovechkin, who has goals in three straight, along with Connor McMichael, who has been generating speed and pressure on the forecheck and has points in back-to-back games. For Dallas, a team still fighting for a spot in the postseason, watch out for Tyler Seguin, who has points in three of his last four, as well as Jamie Benn. In addition to those two, look for top scorers Joe Pavelski and Jason Robertson to make noise, too.

Meanwhile, Washington will also see a familiar face at Capital One Arena. While Braden Holtby will not dress for the Stars due to a lower-body injury, he will be in the building for the first time since March 4, 2020, when he was still a member of the Capitals.

 

Washington drops the puck with Dallas at 5 p.m. ET. It is the final game for both clubs before the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline, which is at 3 p.m. on Monday.

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