Perreault Makes Most of Top Line Try

Posted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel

Although he has missed Washington’s last nine games, Caps center Nicklas Backstrom is still the team’s leading scorer with 42 points this season. Fellow Swedish pivot Marcus Johansson has been filling in on the top line for the Capitals during Backstrom’s absence; Johansson skated 22:09 in Friday’s loss at Carolina, the second-highest single-game ice time total of his career. On Sunday in Pittsburgh, the Caps were without both Backstrom and Johansson. Washington started Sunday’s contest in Pittsburgh with Mathieu Perreault, Brooks Laich, Jeff Halpern and Cody Eakin as its four centers. Expect no sympathy from the Penguins. Pittsburgh boasts arguably the best trio of centers in the circuit in Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal. But you can count on the fingers of both hands the number of times all three have been available for the same game in Pittsburgh’s last 130 regular-season contests. Perreault has been on the Caps’ roster all season, but he has dressed for 29 of the Capitals’ 47 games and he entered Sunday’s game with an average of just 9:05 per night in ice time. With Backstrom and Johansson unavailable, Caps coach Dale Hunter elected to insert Perreault as the pivot on the Caps’ top line. He skated most of the afternoon with Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin. “Just when I got to the rink this morning,” says Perreault, when asked when he found out he’d be manning the middle of Washington’s top trio this afternoon. “I didn’t even know he was [sick]. “It’s a little more pressure, but at the same time it’s a good chance for me to show what I can do when I get a little more ice time with the top players.” It was a good chance, and Perreault made the most of it. He logged 16:22 for the afternoon, and he assisted on goals by Semin and Ovechkin The ice-time total is the most No. 85 has ever had in a single contest of his 85-game NHL career. “We seemed to generate a lot of speed in the neutral zone today,” says Perreault. “We had the goals off the rush, both of them. I think it was a big thing for us.” Perreault scored the game-winning goal in the trip opener at Montreal on Wednesday, so he finished the trip with three points in as many games. “He played well,” says Hunter of Perreault. “He had a good game going, playing lots of minutes and not used to them. Mathieu did a great job.”

next up:

Ovechkin Hit With Suspension

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One of the best things – and there are a lot of “best things” – about my job is that every day is different. Every day is interesting. Today was more interesting than most. First, the whole Tim Thomas flap, where it was reported that he took his option on the Bruins’ team visit to the White House

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