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Capitals expect same Penguins without Letang

Trotz says Pittsburgh's approach in Game 4 won't change without suspended defenseman

by Katie Brown / Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will be without suspended defenseman Kris Letang in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Washington Capitals at Consol Energy Center on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports), but Capitals coach Barry Trotz said he doesn't expect the absence to affect the Penguins' approach.

Letang, who has regularly played the most minutes among Penguins defensemen during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, was suspended for one game by the NHL Department of Player Safety on Tuesday for a hit on Capitals forward Marcus Johansson in Pittsburgh's 3-2 victory in Game 3 on Monday.

Pittsburgh leads the best-of-7 series 2-1.

"I don't think they'll change their game a whole lot," Trotz said. "I think they have an identity. They're going to try to play to their identity. Obviously, Kris is a tremendous defenseman in this League. He's a top guy. I don't think they're going to change their philosophy or anything like that. I think they're just going to have to fill the void as we are trying to do with [defenseman] Brooks [Orpik] out, if there's anything to come of that."

Orpik was suspended for three games for his hit on Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta in Game 2. Maatta missed Game 3 with an upper-body injury.

Johansson did not participate in practice Tuesday. The Capitals said he had an upper-body injury and would be re-evaluated Wednesday. Forward Stanislav Galiev took Johansson's place on the second line during rushes in practice.

Johansson left Game 3 in the first period after the hit by Letang, who was assessed a two-minute minor penalty for interference. Johansson was helped off the ice but returned for the second period and played 18:20.

Johansson said he was able to return to the game because he passed all the mandated concussion protocols.

"Just some issues with my neck right now, but I passed all the other tests," Johansson said. "I did not hit the ice … got a little whiplash, I think, and it what it is."

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