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Capitals revamp lines for game against Kings

by Adam Vingan

KINGS (21-16-12) at CAPITALS (25-15-10)


ARLINGTON, Va. -- Having followed a 14-1-4 run with a 1-4-2 slump, the Washington Capitals adjusted their forward lines for their game Tuesday against the Los Angeles Kings.

Most notably, Marcus Johansson, who has started every game this season as the second-line left wing, will shift to the right side on the Capitals' first line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

Johansson was Ovechkin and Backstrom's primary linemate the past two seasons, albeit at left wing. He will be the eighth different wing to start beside those two this season.

"I think they're both stars in the game and they don't need to be stroked or to have everything their way," coach Barry Trotz said of Ovechkin and Backstrom. "I think they're both different people and it's probably not perfect for them, but [Ovechkin] does not complain about who he's playing with or why or anything. He wants to play. The same with [Backstrom]. They say, 'Whoever you put there, we'll make it work.'"

Said Ovechkin of Johansson: "He knows how to play with me and [Backstrom], and he plays on the power play with us as well. I know what to expect from him and he knows what to expect from us."

Forward Andre Burakovsky will return to the lineup after being scratched for three games. He'll play left wing for the first time this season, next to Evgeny Kuznetsov and Troy Brouwer.

"That's where [Kuznetsov's] going to ultimately play," Trotz said. "I think my goal is down the road to have them both play [center], unless we did something different where that changed the philosophy. Right now, down the road, [Burakovsky] does a lot of the same things that Marcus can do, so we'll just try him there."

Aaron Volpatti, activated from long-term injured reserve Tuesday, will make his season debut on the fourth line.

"It's not the easiest spot to come in and have him play for so long, but I think he's put in lots of time," Trotz said. "It's just going to be the game sense, you know? You can't replicate what you need to do a lot of times so he's just going to have to keep it simple tonight. And I think he'll be able to do that."

The Kings, honored at the White House on Monday for winning the Stanley Cup last season, trail the Vancouver Canucks by three points for the second Western Conference wild-card berth into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Carolina Hurricanes are the last team to win the Stanley Cup and miss the postseason the following season, doing so in 2006-07.

"We're playing Washington tonight," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "We're not playing anybody that's behind us or ahead of us in our standings. We're playing the Washington Capitals. We'll deal with that. That's how you have success over and over and over, is you don't let anything from the outside interfere with what you're trying to do. If you do that well enough you win more than you lose, and that's kind of what we've done."

On a five-game road trip, the Kings are 5-10-6 away from Staples Center this season, including 1-5-2 in their past eight. They have been successful against the Capitals, though, winning seven straight games between the teams.

"All I know is they're Stanley Cup champions and they went all seven games last year in every round [the Kings defeated the New York Rangers in five games in the Cup Final] and they were behind last year in almost every round and they won the Stanley Cup," Trotz said. "They are dangerous. They're dangerous every time they step on the ice."

Here are the projected lineups:


Marian Gaborik - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown

Dwight King - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli

Kyle Clifford - Jarret Stoll - Justin Williams

Jordan Nolan - Nick Shore - Trevor Lewis

Jake Muzzin - Drew Doughty

Robyn Regehr - Alec Martinez

Brayden McNabb - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick

Martin Jones

Scratched: Andy Andreoff, Jamie McBain

Injured: Tanner Pearson (leg)


Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Marcus Johansson

Brooks Laich - Eric Fehr - Joel Ward

Andre Burakovsky - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Troy Brouwer

Aaron Volpatti - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Brooks Orpik - John Carlson

Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen

Jack Hillen - Mike Green

Braden Holtby

Justin Peters

Scratched: Jason Chimera, Michael Latta

Injured: Dmitry Orlov (wrist), John Erskine (neck surgery)

Status report: Chimera and Latta will be Washington's healthy scratches. … Holtby never has faced Los Angeles.

Who's hot: Quick is undefeated against Washington, going 4-0-0 record, 2.40 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. … Ovechkin has 15 goals in his past 15 games after scoring 16 in his first 35 games.

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