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Knuble-Aucoin-Ward line brings grit, energy to Game 4

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Mike Knuble knows the drill missing time in the playoffs, so returning to the Washington Capitals’ lineup for Thursday’s Game 4 won’t be new for him. Last year a broken thumb cost him the end of the New York Rangers series and the start against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“You know how to jump back into it, and you just do what you’ve always done,” Knuble said. “You can be effective, I think, as a line. Our goal’s going to be log some time in the offensive zone. I think that’s something that we can provide, something we can do. We tilt the ice. That’s your job. Play in their end.”

That line is Knuble on the left wing with center Keith Aucoin and right wing Joel Ward. They played together for a couple games in March, developing at least some chemistry that should help against the Boston Bruins.

“I think I’m coming in with a focus of kind of knowing what to expect. The odds are we’re going to be a strong fourth line tonight,” Knuble said. “We know what we’re doing together. I think we play off each other nicely.”

In putting Knuble, Aucoin and Ward together, coach Dale Hunter mixed grit and energy.

“With two big wingers and a smart centerman, they can go grind in the corners and Keith can make some plays for them,” Hunter said. “It’s a good combination. You have two big guys and a smart centerman.”

These guys seem to agree it’s a good combination.

“I think as the fourth line we want to keep it simple and get the puck in deep and both of those guys are good down-low and in the corners and when they get me the puck, they’ll get open and I’ll try to find them,” Aucoin said. “That’s my job, to pass the puck, and as a line we’ve had a couple of big games together and hopefully we can find that again. But they’re good shooters, so hopefully I can get them the puck in the slot and we can throw everything on net.”

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