Peter Laviolette is tinkering with his top nine again and promoting a player to the top line that he healthy scratched multiple times earlier in the season.
Conor Sheary will skate with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov on the team’s top trio against the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday while Lars Eller has been returned back to the third line. Nicklas Backstrom, the Capitals’ top scorer, will skate between Jakub Vrana ond Tom Wilson on the second line, which will arguably be the Capitals’ most dangerous line.
#Caps lines ahead of PIT, which features a couple of forward combo changes:
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) February 25, 2021
“I think he’s been one of our most effective forwards,” Laviolette said of Sheary’s to the Washington Post’s Samantha Pell. “He’s a guy for me that has done a really good job.”
Sheary has scored five goals and tallied six points in 15 games this season. His five even-strength goals are tied for the team lead with Nicklas Backstrom and Jakub Vrana.
The undersized forward has also had some random success against his former teams this season, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres. Three of his five goals have come against the Penguins and Sabres in the last five games played.
— NBCSports Washington (@NBCSWashington) February 24, 2021
Conor Sheary: a man on a mission against his former teams! pic.twitter.com/cmKIiDaMfE
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 19, 2021
During eight career games against Pittsburgh, Sheary has scored six times.
“I don’t really know (why it’s happening),” Sheary said Tuesday. “I guess I know a little bit of their tendencies from being there, but a lot of guys in this league have a team that they just find ways to score against and play well against, and for whatever reason that has been Pittsburgh since I left there. I don’t really know what it is specifically, maybe I just get a little bit more amped up to play them.
“But I don’t think I had many opportunities tonight. Just the one opportunity I did get I was able to bury, which was good. But I don’t know what it is specifically.”
Meanwhile, Laviolette will turn to Vitek Vanecek for his 16th start in 19 Capitals games this season. Craig Anderson will back him up.
Vitek Vanecek will start in net tonight vs Pittsburgh, per Laviolette.
— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) February 25, 2021
Screenshot courtesy of NBC Sports Washington
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