Mike Green returns to Capitals’ lineup against Devils

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NEWARK, N.J. —  It was a long 20 days for Mike Green. He missed six games and plenty of practices.

But Friday night, the All-Star defenseman who had been nursing a right-ankle injury returned to the Washington Capitals‘ lineup for the first part of a home-and-home series with the New Jersey Devils.

Green, who was feeling better after the morning skate, was again paired with Roman Hamrlik. It’s hard to overstate Green’s importance to the Caps, and coach Bruce Boudreau knows it.

“Well, we’re 7-0 with him and 2-4 without him. I think those numbers are self-evident. When he’s at the top of his game, you know how important he is,” Boudreau said. “He’s a pretty important piece to our puzzle.”

With Karl Alzner and John Carlson reunited and John Erskine skating with Dennis Wideman, big defenseman Jeff Schultz was the healthy scratch on the blue line. Earlier in the day, Boudreau wouldn’t show his hand about choosing a player to sit if and when Green returned.

“It always makes it a hard choice when you’ve got seven established NHL defensemen,” Boudreau said. “But we’ll figure it out.”

Schultz has four assists and a plus-4 rating this season.

Johansson feeling good

Marcus Johansson has young legs, and it’s November. He didn’t want to take a day off.

But Johansson missed Capitals practice Thursday to rest some soreness —  something that, in the short and long run is probably better for him.

“You don’t want to be the guy who not practices or something like that. I’ve been sore and I felt I needed it,” Johansson said Friday morning. “It feels better today, so I think it was a good decision.”

There was little doubt, even Thursday, that Johansson would be in the Caps’ lineup Friday night at the New Jersey Devils. And he started on the top line between Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer.

“It’s exciting to play with [Ovechkin],” Johansson said. “He’s a player that makes stuff happen all the time.”

Hendricks makes it to Jersey

What a couple of days for Matt Hendricks. On Thursday, his wife, Kim, gave birth to twin boys: Gunnar and Lennon Hendricks.

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