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Capitals may shuffle lines for Game 5

Seeking offense in must-win against Penguins

by Katie Brown / NHL.com Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The forward lines had a bit of a different look at the Washington Capitals practice Friday, a day before the biggest game of their season, Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Verizon Center (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

"We've done that all year," coach Barry Trotz said. "Using the other side of your brain once in a while when you get someone different in the lineup. That's really what we're trying to do tomorrow."

Washington trails the best-of-7 series 3-1.

Trotz sometimes does one thing in practice and another come game time, but here is how the lines could look: 

Evgeny Kuznetsov centered the top line with captain Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie; Nicklas Backstrom centered an all-Swede line with Marcus Johansson and Andre Burakovsky; and Justin Williams moved to the third line with Jason Chimera, centered by Jay Beagle.

Video: WSH@PHI, Gm3: Kuznetsov cleans up carom off glass

Mike Richards, who did not practice because he was ill, presumably will center the fourth line with Daniel Winnik and Tom Wilson. Richards is expected to play in Game 5.

"It's a situation where I don't think we played bad, but we'll see if things are changed," Ovechkin said. "Maybe tomorrow it's going to be the old lines. You never know."

They're not drastic changes, but ones Trotz may make to produce some offense. Since Oshie's hat trick in Game 1, the top six forwards have combined for three goals.

With Washington a loss from elimination Saturday, Trotz said he doesn't have anything to lose by changing things up.

"It's not a big deal because they've played together all year," Trotz said. "I mean, back and forth, I've done that numerous times. Sometimes you do it just to shake things up. Sometimes going ahead, we've got the last change, so they give me a little different matchups."

Video: WSH@PHI, Gm6: Backstrom buries home Johansson's feed

Kuznetsov centered Ovechkin's line to begin the regular season, and the two played 19 games together. Ovechkin has three points in the second round. Kuznetsov, who led the Capitals in points during the regular season, has two points in 10 games during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Nothing really changes," Kuznetsov said. "We have a plan on how we are going to play. We know each other. We know what we are going to do out on the ice. There are some small areas we have to correct a little bit. But it's still hockey. We just have to go out there and do what we do best."

Williams admittedly hasn't had his best playoffs. He scored his first goal of the postseason in Game 3 and has four points. Moving out of the top six and onto a third line that may be counted on to shut down the Penguins' top line is a more defensive role for Williams, but one he said he's comfortable with.

"I've played a little better recently," Williams said, "but obviously I'm counted on to support this team offensively and defensively, among other things. I certainly put the onus on myself to be better. A lot of us do. We all do."

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