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At the Rink: Blue Jackets at Capitals

by Katie Brown

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Columbus Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen will play Friday against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center (7 p.m. ET; FS-O, CSN-DC).

Johansen missed two games because of an undisclosed illness. He told the Blue Jackets website Thursday that he felt like he was back to feeling 100 percent and was ready to play.

Columbus coach John Tortorella said he will be keeping a close eye on Johansen during the game Friday, as he remains concerned about the center's energy levels.

"I don't have any expectations," Tortorella said. "We're going to play him. [I'm] a little concerned, judging from yesterday's practice, just the time off, just a little bit of the struggle he's had as far as his energy. I'm going to monitor that very closely during the game. He struggled through the practice yesterday. We'll see how it goes as the game goes on."

Forward Brandon Saad is experiencing flu-like symptoms and will not play Friday. He did not travel with the team.

With Saad out, Brandon Dubinsky moved from center to left wing on a line with Cam Atkinson and Johansen.

Dubinsky's move to the wing should be temporary, and Tortorella still plans to utilize him on faceoffs against Washington.

"He'll get some faceoff time," Tortorella said. "We're going to use him in that area, probably with [Johansen] in one circle and him in another. He'll get some time. That's what I love about the guy. He's so versatile."

Washington coach Barry Trotz did some tinkering with the Capitals' lines during their morning skate. He's hoping for a different result against Columbus than the one they had against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, a 3-1 loss that broke a five-game winning streak.

Defenseman Nate Schmidt will play in place of Taylor Chorney on the third pairing, with Dmitry Orlov. Center Chandler Stephenson will be a healthy scratch, and forward Michael Latta will play right wing on the fourth line, centered by Brooks Laich, with Andre Burakovsky at left wing. Burakovsky had played the previous five games as fourth-line right wing.

Latta was a healthy scratch for the previous six games. Trotz said he wants Latta to work his way back into a permanent spot in the lineup.

"This will be a good test for him," Trotz said. "What I want to see is just consistency in his game. It starts with practice and it builds to a little more consistency. So we'll see. If he can bring that, he can be very effective."

Here are the projected lineups:


Brandon Dubinsky - Ryan Johansen - Cam Atkinson

Scott Hartnell - Alexander Wennberg - Nick Foligno

Boone Jenner - William Karlsson - Matt Calvert

Rene Bourque - Gregory Campbell - David Clarkson

Jack Johnson - David Savard

Fedor Tyutin - Dalton Prout

Cody Goloubef - Ryan Murray

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Injured: Brandon Saad (illness)

Scratched: Jared Boll, Kevin Connauton


Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Justin Williams

Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Andre Burakovsky - Brooks Laich - Michael Latta

Brooks Orpik - John Carlson

Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner

Dmitry Orlov - Nate Schmidt

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Injured: Chris Brown (hand)

Scratched: Chandler Stephenson, Stanislav Galiev, Taylor Chorney

Status update: Brown has been practicing but remains on injured reserve. He will be sent to Hershey of the American League once he is cleared to play, Trotz said.

Who's hot: Kuznetsov has 10 points in his past four games and leads the Capitals with 12 points. … Jenner has three goals in his past two games. … Dubinsky has two goals and one assist during his three-game point streak.

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