- The Washington Times - Monday, April 18, 2016

PHILADELPHIA — Marcus Johansson entered the postseason having only picked up a point in 13 of his 44 career playoff games. That he has four in two games is not something that has surprised the Washington Capitals.

“[He’s] just using his assets,” coach Barry Trotz said Monday morning, hours before Game 3 of the Washington Capitals’ first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia Flyers. “Marcus is a very intelligent player. He has great speed. You know, we always wanted him to shoot more, but right now, he’s feeling it in terms of the apples, the assists, that we get, and he’s finding people open.”

Johansson had primary assists on both goals in the Capitals’ series-opening 2-0 victory on Thursday, then had secondary assists on two goals in the 4-1 victory in Game 2 on Saturday.

Before the Capitals’ current playoff run began, he had only twice had two points in a postseason game in his career. Three of his four postseason assists have been on the power play.

“I mean, it’s just kind of the way it goes sometimes,” Johansson said. “I feel like [there’s] some times if you have a lot of chances and a lot of plays, nothing happens, but now, the power play’s been working, so that’s the way it goes, I think.”

Johansson began the season as the second-line left wing, but spent much of the second half of it as the Capitals’ third-line center following Jay Beagle’s hand injury. He had played the position on occasion during his five previous seasons in Washington, but never with the level of regularity that he had since early January.

As the net-front presence on the Capitals’ top power play unit, Johansson is primarily tasked with moving the puck below the goal line and being in position for tip-ins on other shots. In Game 1, his pass from the right corner set up John Carlson’s goal, which deflected off Flyers left wing Chris VandeVelde and into the net.

“It’s been just keeping it simple and working hard and taking what’s there,” said Johansson, who finished third on the team with six power-play goals this season. “We’re not trying to force anything and not taking anything for granted, I think, and that’s what’s kept us successful.”

Center Nicklas Backstrom, who runs the top power-play unit, said its efficiency has been a large reason why the Capitals have won the first two games. Johansson, accordingly, has been part of it.

“He’s been playing great,” Backstrom said. “We need everybody at this time of the year, so it doesn’t matter, really, who scores the goals as long as we get it done.”

• Zac Boyer can be reached at zboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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