- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2013

Mathieu Perreault wanted to show what he could do after four games as a healthy scratch. Eric Fehr wanted to show what he could do with some more playing time. Joel Ward wanted to show what he could do with more responsibility.

Throw those three guys together, and the Washington Capitals have an impressive third line that should skate together again in Tuesday’s game at the Florida Panthers.

“We’re three hardworking guys,” Perreault said. “It seems like we were just supporting each other very well in the offensive zone.”

And producing. The Fehr-Perreault-Ward line was responsible for two goals Saturday night.

But it’s not even about production as much as it is tilting the ice in the Caps’ favor.

“They cycled and they were relentless and they bumped guys off the puck,” coach Adam Oates said. “That’s all the little things we talk about all the time.”

If the fourth line is a grind-it-out, checking trio, then Fehr, Perreault and Ward represent a good mix on an energy line. Their priority is not playing “fancy,” Oates said, but dominating shifts.

“We’re just going to try to cycle, wear and tear and, I think, work hard,” Ward said. “I thought we had a couple chances and kind of gained our confidence from the start. We just got to get pucks down low and cycle and try to wear down the other team’s D-men.”

Fehr said forechecking and forcing turnovers were a couple of things to take pride in. Then, when those turnovers happen, go hard to the net.

What makes the line unique is that Fehr and Ward are both right-handed shots. That’s not a major issue as long as the Caps are in the attacking zone.

“I think our goal is stay out of our own zone,” Ward said. “And if we can do that playing the offensive side, then who cares about position and who’s got what stick? As long as you’re inside their blue line and trapped ‘em in, you’re moving around so much that if you’re not playing defense in your own zone, we’ll be fine.

“That’s the mentality we’re going to have: I guess they say the best defense is a good offense, and we can kind of just press them in that way.”

Johansson misses practice

Forward Marcus Johansson missed Monday’s practice with what the team called an “upper-body injury,” two days after he was considered a healthy scratch. Oates said Johansson was injured in Thursday night’s game at the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“It’s been bugging him but last time he played,” Oates said.

Johansson did not leave with the team on its trip to Florida, Oates said. The Caps listed him as day-to-day.

Ice chips

⦁ Braden Holtby will start in goal Tuesday at the Panthers, Oates confirmed. The young goaltender made 27 saves in shutting out Florida on Saturday.

⦁ Forward Brooks Laich offered no update on his groin injury Monday, though he’s on the trip with the Caps. The next step is Laich being cleared for contact, though there’s still no timetable on when he will make his season debut.

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