New opportunity for Knuble, Perreault

New opportunity for Knuble, Perreault
April 18, 2012, 3:09 pm
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It looks like a one-game punishment for Nicklas Backstrom will turn into a one-game opportunity for Mathieu Perreault and Mike Knuble.

With Backstrom suspended for Thursday nights Game 4 against the Boston Bruins, Perreault took his place at Wednesdayas practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, centering a second line with Jason Chimera and Alexander Semin.

Knuble, a healthy scratch in each of the Capitals three playoff games, along with the final game of the regular season, practiced on the left wing on a fourth line with center Keith Aucoin and right wing Joel Ward.

The Capitals other two lines had Brooks Laich between Alex Ovechkin and Marcus Johansson, and Jay Beagle between Matt Hendricks and Troy Brouwer. Brouwer started the series on the top line and scored a goal in Game 2.

Return of Erskine?: The other notable change at Wednesdays practice was the promotion of John Erskine to the third pairing with Dennis Wideman. Jeff Schultz, who was a minus-2 in Monday nights 4-3 loss in Game 3, took practice shifts with rookie Dmitry Orlov.

Erskine is the Capitals most aggressive physical defenseman, but has played in just one game since Jan. 31. He logged 8:31 of ice time in a game against the Rangers on Feb. 12.

The Caps other two defense pairings John Carlson with Karl Alzner, and Mike Green with Roman Hamrlik remained unchanged.

If Knuble and Erskine are in the Capitals lineup Thursday night it will be in response to the Bruins hard-edged play in Game 3. The Bruins outhit the Caps 58-36 with Milan Lucic leading the way with eight hits. Zdeno Chara had seven and Gregory Campbell six.

Etcetera: Goaltender Michal Neuvirth participated in a full practice and took regular turns between the pipes. That could clear the way for Neuvirth to dress as Braden Holtbys backup Thursday night and Dany Sabourins return to Hershey. Backstrom, Jeff Halpern, Cody Eakin and Mattias Sjogren skated as extra forwards on Wednesday.