The Washington Capitals practiced on Monday for the first time since their 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Present on the ice for the skate was center Evgeny Kuznetsov who did not feature in the win due to an illness.
Kuznetsov has been absent since he missed practice last Friday. Hendrix Lapierre replaced him in the lineup against Columbus and had a career-best, three-point night.
The last update on Kuznetsov’s status came from head coach Spencer Carbery after Saturday’s optional morning skate. “Sick, so missed today’s skate,” Carbery said. “Tomorrow is an off day so we’ll see where he’s at tomorrow and then for Monday’s practice. Not playing tonight.”
The Russian centerman currently ranks third on the team in scoring with eight points (3g, 5a) from 14 games. His minutes against Columbus were mostly split between two of the team’s youngest skaters in Lapierre and Connor McMichael.
Lapierre took on the five-on-five workload while McMichael subbed in for Kuznetsov on the power play and soaked up more penalty-killing time. McMichael finished the night with the fourth-most minutes played on the team among forwards (15:43).
Both players impressed but the night truly belonged to Lapierre, who scored his second-career goal and added two assists. Postgame, Carbery credited Lapierre and his linemates Aliaksei Protas and Sonny Milano as being the sole difference makers in the win. The trio combined for eight points (3g, 5a) on the night.
“It’s one thing (for Lapierre) to do a few things — and Pro as well and Sonny Milano — to do those things and chip in with a goal obviously that’s huge and important, but the guys recognize when you single-handedly get the team two points, and that’s what happened,” Carbery said. “Those three goals that they score, that’s the difference in the game. That’s the two points in the win column for us, and that’s because of their line.”
With Kuznetsov now back, Carbery had the 31-year-old pivot splitting time with Lapierre as the team’s third-line center at Monday’s skate according to reporting from NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti. While Kuznetsov’s return puts Lapierre’s future lineup status into question, it’s clear that the youngster knows he can’t settle for just one good game.
“It’s only one game; I don’t want to be too excited,” Lapierre said postgame. “I’ll enjoy it for tonight, but tomorrow’s a new day. I’ve got to get back to work. It was obviously a super fun time playing with those guys, so I’m very grateful. And again, we had a good game, so I’m pretty happy.”
Headline photo: Katie Adler/RMNB
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.