The Washington Times - January 23, 2012, 09:16AM

PITTSBURGH | It wasn’t even a week ago when Mathieu Perreault was a healthy scratch and very used to that position. He sat in the press box for seven of 10 games but managed to get in to the Washington Capitals’ lineup Wednesday in Montreal, a nice treat for a kid who grew up about an hour away.

That day he talked of making the most of opportunities and the desire to stay on the ice.

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It’s still more pressure because you feel like, ‘I’m back in, so I’ve got to do good to be in the next game.’ It’s more extra pressure, but there’s always going to be pressure in this game,” he said at Bell Centre.

Not only did Perreault stick, but on Sunday he was centering the top line and skating alongside Alex Ovechkin. It was a promotion stemming from Marcus Johansson’s absence because of illness but a deserved one nonetheless.

It’s just more pressure, but at the same time it’s a chance to show what I can do when I get a little more ice time with top players,” Perreault said after the Caps’ 4-3 overtime loss.

And the 24-year-old capitalized on that chance, picking up a couple assists in his first-line cameo. Perreault played 16:22 and finished with a plus-2 rating.

He played well,” coach Dale Hunter said. “He had a good game going and playing lots of minutes and not used to them, and I think he did a great job.”

Perreault admitted last week it was a challenge to play only six or seven minutes a game. Even when he scored an early goal at the Canadiens, he finished with just over six minutes of ice time.

But that 16:22 Sunday in Pittsburgh was well-spent. His best play was actually his secondary assist, as he made a nice pass and took a hit to spring Alexander Semin and Ovechkin for a break that led to a goal. His primary assist came on a smart shot that bounced off Marc-Andre Fleury’s pads and right to Semin for his goal.

You see we generated a lot of speed in the neutral zone today,” Perreault said. “We had some goals off the rush, both of them.”