Laviolette Shakes Up Capitals Lines; Vanecek To Start Tonight; Samsonov Likely To Return To Hershey For Game Tomorrow Night: News From Morning Skate

The Washington Capitals held their game day morning skate at 10:30 this morning at MedStar Capitals Iceplex. They will host the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first game of a two-game set tonight at Capital One Arena. Puck drop is set for just after 7:00 PM on NBC Sports Washington. Here’s the latest news from MedStar:


Laviolette made changes to the Capitals forward lines this morning, moving Lars Eller up to center the top line and moving Nicklas Backstrom down to center the third line.

Laviolette began making similar changes to the lines in the second period of their last game, Sunday afternoon against New Jersey.

Vitek Vancek will start tonight. Craig Anderson will backup. Ilya Samsonov will likely return to Hershey for the game tomorrow night.

Power Play Units

Power play 1: – Carlson, Ovechkin, Backstrom, Vrana, Oshie|
Power play 2: – Orlov, Schultz, Kuznetsov, Eller, Wilson.


Laviolette stopped drills this morning, spoke to the team and had them start over. Laviolette said after practice “It was just a chat…it was just to sharpen things up a little bit for tonight.” Brenden Dillon said Laviolette was stressing the importance of being sharp from the start tonight after a day off and having some slow starts in previous two games. And that it’s a big game against Pittsburgh, and the time for feeling out games early is over.

Video: @g_alena13

Nicklas Backstrom


  • Alex Ovechkin (1g, 3a) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (2g, 2a) each lead the Capitals this season in points against the Penguins.
  • Nicklas Backstrom enters today’s game two assists shy of 700 career assists. Backstrom is aiming to become the first player in franchise history, the 54thplayer in NHL history and the second fastest active player (974th career game) to reach the 700-assist milestone.
  • Backstrom is also aiming to become the 25th player in NHL history to reach the milestone before his 1,000th NHL game. Of the 24 players to accomplish this feat, 23 are in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
  • Backstrom has assisted on goals scored by 56 different players in his career. His current teammates Alex Ovechkin (266 assists), T.J. Oshie (66 assists) and John Carlson (43 assists) are at the top of the list.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Civil Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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