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Capitals' Green, Grabovski in; Johansson uncertain

by Alain Poupart

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Washington Capitals will have defenseman Mike Green and center Mikhail Grabovski back in the lineup Thursday night when they try to pick up where they left off before the Olympic break, but the status of center Marcus Johansson was still up in the air after the morning skate.

Johansson skated with his teammates Thursday morning after arriving at the team hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. After competing in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Johansson had to fly to Sweden to resolve a visa issue and spent 20 hours traveling Wednesday to Miami after making a stop in London.

"I don't feel great right now," Johansson said. "Obviously when you travel like that for 20 hours or whatever it was, it takes a little toll on your body, but you get a good nap in and a good meal, I think it'll help me a lot."

Capitals coach Adam Oates said he would make a decision on the status of Johansson, the team's third-leading scorer with 36 points, after the pregame warm-up. Oates indicated that even if he does play, Johansson would start off getting limited ice time with the fourth line.

"What I told him was, let's see how you feel in warm-up," Oates said. "I don't think anybody has ever mastered jetlag and the feeling. I'm sure he was sluggish out there. Hopefully, after a little bit of a sweat, a nap, he feels better, but he might also be like the world is on top of his shoulders. I have to make it a game-time decision."

Johansson brought with him the silver medal he won with Sweden.

"I got it here," he said. "I think I want to keep for a while, maybe look at it on a bad day."

For Olympic and Capitals teammate Nicklas Backstrom, the game against Florida represents an opportunity to put behind a disappointing finish in Sochi. Backstrom missed the gold-medal game against Canada because of a failed doping-control test, which he said was the result of taking allergy medicine.

"Everything has been said," Backstrom said Thursday. "Right now, I'm just looking forward to playing hockey with Washington."

Backstrom is expected to center a line with Alex Ovechkin and Brooks Laich. Centering the second line will be Grabovski, who missed the last eight games before the Olympic break because of an ankle injury. Washington went 5-2-1 during those eight games, which followed a seven-game winless streak (0-5-2).

Green missed the Capitals' past five games because of a concussion.

"It helps a lot," Oates said of having Grabovski and Green back. "Two very good hockey players. You inject them into your lineup, I know it's been a long time but they still should have a little spark in their game because they're excited to be back and playing. We need the weapons that they bring for our team."

The Panthers, meanwhile, resume action minus their two Olympians. Center Aleksander Barkov and forward Tomas Kopecky were injured during the Olympics and are out indefinitely.

Rookie Nick Bjugstad will replace Barkov between wingers Brad Boyes and Sean Bergenehim on the first line. Drew Shore, recalled from the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League on Monday, will take Bjugstad's place on the second line with veteran Scottie Upshall and 2013 Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau.

Panthers coach Peter Horachek said the decision to put Shore and Huberdeau together was a combination of their work together toward the end of last season and a reward for Shore's strong play with the Panthers before the Olympic break and his play in San Antonio.

"I heard it a lot from not only him but a lot of other people, how well he played last year when he played with [Huberdeau]," Horachek said. "I think that he has come up, he's taken the right approach. He's worked hard, so this might be a good little spark for both of them. Give them an opportunity to see where it stands. We'll see where it goes."

Forward Jimmy Hayes, a healthy scratch for four of Florida's past five games, not only will play against Washington, but also is likely to get playing time on the power play.

The Panthers have the lowest-ranked power play in the NHL at 8.9 percent.

"He's 6-6; he's a big body and he's got decent hands down there," Horachek said. "You can't teach size. You want to make it as difficult as possible for the goaltenders, and that's one of the areas where we clearly have to do a better job, is not being near the goalie or around the goalie but being right on top of the goalie. I'm expecting more of that from him."

Here are the projected lineups for the Capitals and Panthers:


Brooks LaichNicklas BackstromAlex Ovechkin

Martin EratMikhail GrabovskiTroy Brouwer

Jason ChimeraEric FehrJoel Ward

Marcus JohanssonJay BeagleTom Wilson

Karl AlznerJohn Carlson

Dmitry OrlovMike Green

John ErskineConnor Carrick

Braden Holtby

Michal Neuvirth

Scratched: Julien Brouillette, Nicolas Deschamps

Injured: Jack Hillen (leg), Aaron Volpatti (shoulder)


Sean BergenheimNick Bjugstad - Brad Boyes

Jonathan HuberdeauDrew ShoreScottie Upshall

Tomas Fleischmann - Marcel GocJesse Winchester

Krys BarchShawn MatthiasJimmy Hayes

Brian Campbell - Tom Gilbert

Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver

Ed JovanovskiErik Gudbranson

Tim Thomas

Scott Clemmensen

Scratched: Scott Gomez, Dylan Olsen

Injured: Aleksander Barkov (lower body), Tomas Kopecky (upper body)

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