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Capitals come to grips with missing postseason

by Kurt Dusterberg

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The mood was gloomy in the Washington Capitals locker room after the morning skate, about 12 hours after the Capitals were eliminated from contention for the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The combination of a Columbus Blue Jackets win and a shootout loss by the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday pushed Washington out of picture.

"Obviously, it's a hard day to be a pro," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "We're all very disappointed of course. It's about us. We didn't get the job done. We've got to be better as coaches, we've got to be better as players."

It is a time of year that players search for words to describe their feelings, even though nothing quite explains the sting of missing out on the postseason.

"It's going to be tough. The mood around here is pretty somber," said goaltender Braden Holtby, who will start for Washington against the Carolina Hurricanes. "It's a frustrating thing, but at the same time, this is when you have to come out and find something in you because there are fans out there paying good money and fans back home watching on TV that want to see us entertain them. So you put everything else aside and play hockey."

The Hurricanes also will miss the playoffs, for the fifth straight season. Coach Kirk Muller said Carolina will use the final three games to try some different combinations at forward and on defense, but he expects an emphasis on winning.

"You always want to go and perform your best," Muller said. "It's a great League here and a privilege to play every game. We owe it to our fans to finish on a good note."

Hurricanes defenseman Ryan Murphy was reassigned to the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League on Thursday.

Here are the projected lineups:


Mikhail Grabovski - Nicklas Backstrom - Alex Ovechkin

Dustin Penner - Marcus Johansson - Troy Brouwer

Jason Chimera - Eric Fehr - Joel Ward

Evgeny Kuznetsov - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Karl Alzner - John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov - Tyson Strachan

Julien Brouillette - Connor Carrick

Braden Holtby

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Aaron Volpatti, Patrick Wey, Jack Hillen

Injured: Mike Green (upper body), Brooks Laich (groin)


Andrei Loktionov - Eric Staal - Alexander Semin

Nathan Gerbe - Jordan Staal - Patrick Dwyer

Jeff Skinner - Riley Nash - Elias Lindholm

Jiri Tlusty - Manny Malhotra - Radek Dvorak

Ron Hainsey - Justin Faulk

John-Michael Liles - Brett Bellemore

Jay Harrison - Mike Komisarek

Anton Khudobin

Justin Peters

Scratched: Drayson Bowman

Injured: Cam Ward (upper body), Andrej Sekera (lower body)

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