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Capitals without Laich for rematch against Penguins

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals did not participate in full practices Tuesday after playing the front end of their home-and-home at Verizon Center on Monday.

Washington, which did not run line drills during its optional morning skate Tuesday, will start goalie Jaroslav Halak for the second consecutive game (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2). Halak allowed three goals on 33 shots Monday.

The Capitals won't have forward Brooks Laich in the lineup. Laich has been bothered by a groin injury and didn't make the trip. They recalled forward Casey Wellman and defenseman Patrick Wey from the American Hockey League on Tuesday. Wellman, who has two goals and three points in 10 NHL games this season, will play Tuesday. Wey's status for the game is unknown.

Forward Evgeny Kuznetsov most likely will play after making his NHL debut Monday. Kuznetsov had two shots on goal in 10:22 of ice time and Capitals coach Adam Oates said he will try to ease him in after the game.

"I think we have to be patient and realistic about expectations because it's a foreign league for him," Oates said. "It's a foreign system. He's never played this way."

Pittsburgh, which cancelled its morning skate Tuesday, likely will play forward Lee Stempniak on its top line again while Brian Gibbons continues to recover from a lower-body injury. Stempniak earned his first two points with the Penguins on Monday by assisting on each of Chris Kunitz's goals in the Penguins' 3-2 win.

"I feel like the last two games have been better and [Monday] I think I just calmed down and was able to take a step back and calm down and was able to handle the puck a little bit more," Stempniak said after the game Monday. "I didn't do much. I kind of just got the puck to [Sidney Crosby] and he made a few great plays."

Stempniak's role could continue to grow with Pittsburgh battling several injuries. Forward Chris Conner was expected to return soon after recovering from a hand injury, but Penguins coach Dan Bylsma announced Monday that Conner sustained a broken foot that will sideline him for an additional 4-6 weeks.

With goalie Jeff Zatkoff having started Monday, Marc-Andre Fleury most likely will return to the Penguins crease on Tuesday.

Here are the expected lineups for the Penguins and Capitals:


Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Lee Stempniak

Jussi Jokinen - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal

Taylor Pyatt - Brandon Sutter - Joe Vitale

Tanner Glass - Marcel Goc - Craig Adams

Olli Maatta - Brooks Orpik

Rob Scuderi - Matt Niskanen

Deryk Engelland - Simon Despres

Marc-Andre Fleury

Jeff Zatkoff

Injured: Kris Letang (stroke), Paul Martin (broken hand), Beau Bennett (wrist/hand), Chris Conner (broken foot), Pascal Dupuis (knee), Robert Bortuzzo (upper body), Brian Gibbons (lower body), Tomas Vokoun (pelvis)


Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Alex Ovechkin

Dustin Penner - Casey Wellman - Troy Brouwer

Jason Chimera - Eric Fehr - Joel Ward

Evgeny Kuznetsov - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Karl Alzner - John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov - Mike Green

Patrick Wey - Connor Carrick

Jaroslav Halak

Braden Holtby

Injured: Mikhail Grabovski (ankle), Brooks Laich (groin)

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