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Aucoin has 70 in 43 Bears games this season and got the call-up to the Caps to provide some offense in Backstrom’s absence.

“He’s a centerman, and we need more playmaking centermen, if you wanted to call it that” Hunter said. “With Nicky out, it makes a big hole. So we’ve got to do it by a combination of a bunch of guys. So that’s basically why he was called up. It’s an offensive guy in the lineup trying to generate more offense.”

Aucoin is having another All-Star season in the AHL, but he’s not sure if this is his best.

“It’s been pretty good. I think it’s tough to say right now,” Aucoin said. “We have three, four lines that can go out there and score every night. Me and Chris Bourque have been playing really well together. It makes it a lot easier when you have camaraderie with a guy like that. You can go out there and score.”

That’s what the Caps need out of Aucoin.

“He’s always a fiery player, plays with a lot of passion and plays with an edge,” linemate Jeff Halpern said. “We don’t expect him to do anything but come in, play his game, play within the system and help us get a win.”

Laich: Ovechkin not a dirty player

Alex Ovechkin returns from his three-game suspension Saturday, and he’s not sure if his game is going to change as a result. This was his third NHL suspension in seven seasons.

But Laich wants Ovechkin to stay the same.

“Ovi is Ovi. Nature vs. nurture, nature’s going to win,” Laich said. “He’s a competitor. He’s a fierce competitor on the ice that guys don’t want to play against. You can’t take the physical nature out of that guy.

“I don’t think Alex is a dirty player. And I don’t think Alex thinks he’s a dirty player. If it’s a blatant run a guy from behind then you might have to curb your game a little bit. But he accelerates to finish a check, and he’s a big, physical guy.”