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Capitals Notebook: Fucale Starts, McMichael Back In Lineup Against Wild

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Capitals goaltender Zach Fucale

The Washington Capitals are looking to put a rough Friday night against the St. Louis Blues behind them and will try to do so with a new lineup against the Minnesota Wild.

Zach Fucale will make his second NHL start as he gets the nod for Washington. He stopped all seven shots against in the third period of the 5-1 loss in St. Louis after coming in for Ilya Samsonov, who surrendered four goals on 16 shots through the first 40 minutes of play.

Fucale became the first netminder in Capitals history to record a shutout in his NHL debuts when he made 21 saves back in November to blank the Detroit Red Wings. He is up with the big club from the taxi squad with Vitek Vanecek out with a non-COVID illness. Vanecek had previously been on the COVID-19 protocol, and Pheonix Copley was his backup. Samsonov will back up.

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Meanwhile, Connor McMichael will return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch against the Blues. He has four goals and nine points through 32 games this season. However, he has gone without a point in his last three games and saw his ice time begin to drop, and ultimately ended up sitting for Friday’s tilt.

“We talked on the ice. He’s a young player. Guys are pushing each other for ice time and when you get that opportunity you’ve gotta go in and make the most of it. With a back-to-back game, I don’t see him sitting too long. Decisions have to be made,” head coach Peter Laviolette said of scratching McMichael.

“We talk about we go through things from a speed thing, compete thing, impact in the game. Again, it’s not that somebody has to play poorly. It’s that somebody else might outplay them and decisions are gonna get made. So you wanna make sure that you’re pushing every day in practice and every game to make sure that you’re remaining in the lineup.”

It’s unclear how the Capitals lines will look. There was no morning skate on Saturday.

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