RALEIGH, N.C. | One bad loss to the New York Islanders was enough for Dale Hunter to shake up the lines. But after a painless victory in Montreal, the Washington Capitals go back to the same forward lines Friday night at the Carolina Hurricanes.
That means Marcus Johansson back between Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer, a combination that really seems to work as a No. 1 unit. Comfort is something that’s there, despite the three not playing together that often this season.
“Me and Brouws have played most of the time all year together, so it was not that new,” Ovechkin said. “I know JoJo a lot. He can create and he have great speed and he can make his own play.”
Johansson scored Wednesday night by turning on the jets and outworking Andrei Kostitsyn. But with Nicklas Backstrom out, Johansson’s top job is to complement Ovechkin and Brouwer.
“Those two guys have a really good shot,” the 21-year-old said. “I think Troy is always working so hard, winning pucks in the corners and all that. So we have a couple of guys on our line that can score and when we do that and work hard in our end and do the right things I think we’re a pretty good line.”
For what it’s worth, Johansson again shrugged off questions about whatever little injury he suffered in the third period Wednesday.
“Nope, I’m still fine,” he said.
Young defenseman Tomas Kundratek spent the Canadiens game watching from the press box, but he’s back in for the Caps at the Hurricanes. He’ll replace big John Erskine, who played 8:51 at Bell Centre but spent eight minutes in the penalty box.
The thought process for Kundratek going back in was simple.
“They’ve got a fast team out here,” coach Dale Hunter said. “We just played them and we thought we could get more speed in our lineup.”
Jeff Schultz will be a healthy scratch on defense for the 15th time in the past 17 games.