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Sunday skate: Capitals' Semin demoted

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Sunday skate: Capitals' Semin demoted

NEW YORK News and notes from Sundays 11 a.m. practice at Madison Square Garden:

Semin demoted: It may be just a one-day slap on the wrist, but right wing Alex Semin practiced on a fourth line with Keith Aucoin and Mike Knuble.

Semin was one of the Capitals best two-way forwards in the first-round series against the the Bruins and led the team with three goals. But he took two ill-advised penalties, including a retaliatory love tap to the back of Ryan Callahans legs that felled him like a cherry tree.

With Semin on the fourth line, Joel Ward moved onto a checking line with Jay Beagle and Matt Hendricks. The top line had Brooks Laich between Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer and the second line had Nicklas Backstrom between Marcus Johansson and Jason Chimera.

Schultz back in?: Jeff Schultz practiced alongside defense partner Dennis Wideman , which could mean hell replace John Erskine in the lineup for Monday nights Game 2.

Erskine played just 8:17 on Saturday and was even with one shot and one hit. Schultz has no points and is a minus-4 in four playoff games. The other defense pairings remained the same with John Carlson and Karl Alzner, and Roman Hamrlik and Mike Green.

Shots in the dark: The 14 shots allowed by the Capitals were by far their lowest of the playoffs. They allowed an average of 35 shots in their seven-game series against the Boston Bruins. The Caps managed just 18 shots, which was their second-lowest total of the playoffs behind the 17 shots they managed in the series opener against the Bruins. The Caps are 0-3 in the playoffs when outshooting their opponents.

Unplugged: The Capitals got off to a rough start on their power play, going 0-for-4, including a 33-second stretch with a two-man advantage. They are now 3-for-23 in the playoffs. We just need to move the puck quicker, said Caps defenseman Mike Green.

Killers: The Capitals penalty kill, led by Jay Beagle, Troy Brouwer, Matt Hendricks and Brooks Laich, continued its excellence, shutting down the Rangers on all four of their power plays. The Caps have allowed just two goals on 27 shorthanded situations.

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Barry Trotz calls Alex Ovechkin's recent spate of penalties 'unacceptable'

Barry Trotz calls Alex Ovechkin's recent spate of penalties 'unacceptable'

Although the Capitals rallied for an overtime win over the Sabres on Monday night, Coach Barry Trotz had some sharp criticism for his team's captain following the game.

Alex Ovechkin was whistled for his team-leading 11th minor penalty in the second period—and Trotz was none too pleased about it.

He didn’t like the timing of the penalty or the type of infraction. And he definitely did not like the fact that it’s become an all too common occurrence for Ovechkin in recent games.   

“Unacceptable,” Trotz said. “He’s our leader [and] he can’t take those penalties. He has to be on the right side [of the opponent].”

RELATED: JOHANSSON FINDS SUCCESS IN A SIMPLIFIED APPROACH

Trotz added: “I’m going to address it harshly with him tomorrow. There’s way too many of [those].”

The slashing call on Monday appeared to be a weak one. Ovechkin reached out and whacked Marcus Foligno on the hip with the blade of his stick, but it was not hard and there did not appear to be any malicious intent.

Still, though, the referee raised his arm…and once again, Ovi was headed to the box. The penalty also came at a bad time for the Caps, who struggled horribly late in the second period.

What troubled Trotz the most, however, was the fact that it’s become a trend for his team's best player and leader in recent games.

In fact, over the past five contests, Ovechkin has no goals and six minor penalties (three slashing calls, two tripping infractions and one interference foul).  

In all, six of Ovechkin’s 11 penalties this season are slashes.

Trotz indicated that many of Ovechkin's penalties could be avoided if he continued to move his feet rather than using his stick to impede/engage the opponent. 

“If you’re working, then you don’t need to do that,” Trotz said. “We’re going to address that. He’s got to lead by example; he’s the captain and right now he’s [got] way too many penalties on his behalf.”

MORE CAPITALS: Caps snap losing streak with Johansson's two goals

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Marcus Johansson finds success in a simplified approach

Marcus Johansson finds success in a simplified approach

WASHINGTON — Throughout the Caps' three-game losing skid, one message was repeated over and over again to the team: get to the front of the net. An offense that relied too much on skill in the past had become stagnant as players began overthinking and looking for the pretty play rather than the simple one. Head coach Barry Trotz wanted the offense to simplify its approach.

Marcus Johansson did and ended up with two critical goals, the game-tying tally and the game-winner in overtime, to lead the Caps to the win over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday.

"If you stay with it and you go to the net, I think a lot of the times it's going to bounce your way in the end," Johansson said.

RELATED: Caps snap losing streak with Johansson's two goals

Getting to the net is nothing new for the veteran forward. Since Trotz came to Washington, Johansson has clearly shifted his game. He's come a long way from the winger who refused to shoot next to Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

With 11 goals, Johansson sits just one shy of Ovechkin for the team lead. He's also tied for second on the team in points with 18.

"I think Marcus out of the chute was going to the net a little bit more, he was shooting," Trotz said.

Facing a 2-1 deficit in the third period and a four-game losing streak, Johansson went to the front of the net right off the faceoff and was there to deflect in a point shot from John Carlson to tie the game.

There was no extra pass, no overthinking, just simple hockey and a clean deflection.

"Whatever way you get it, it's nice especially when you're down a goal and to get back in the game and it's something you want to do for your teammates," Johansson said.

Johansson is a player who boasts a lot of skill and tons of speed. Yet, it's those dirty goals that we've come to expect as he has seemingly become the model for the simplified game Trotz is preaching.

"I think all [Johansson's] goals are in the house that everybody talks about, close to the net," Trotz said. "If guys aren't scoring, you're probably, not going to find them there."

MORE CAPITALS: MARCUS JOHANSSON WINS IT IN OT FOR CAPITALS VS. SABRES