Marcus Johansson finished Monday’s game after being walloped by Kris Letang, but the Washington Capitals winger was forced to miss Tuesday’s practice with an upper-body injury. Johansson has two goals and seven points this post-season, and losing him for Game 4 would be a blow for Washington.
Capitals winger Marcus Johansson was able to finish Monday’s Game 3 against the Penguins following the hit by Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang, but Johansson’s status for Game 4 could be in question.
As the Capitals took the ice for practice Tuesday, the team announced that Johansson had suffered an upper-body injury and would not skate with the team. Being that it’s the post-season, no specifics regarding Johansson’s injury have been released, but the 25-year-old told NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti that he cleared concussion protocol following the jolt and was dealing with a sore neck after the Capitals’ loss.
According to the Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan, Capitals coach Barry Trotz wouldn’t confirm whether or not Johansson would be back in the lineup for Game 4, saying only that the winger would be re-evaluated Wednesday.
That Johansson was held out of practice seemingly didn’t impact the suspension length for Letang, as the NHL Department of Player Safety ruled there was “no apparent injury” to Johansson on the play. Letang was handed a one-game ban for the hit.
Losing Johansson for any length of time — be it one game or more — would hurt a Capitals offense that is already having a hard time solving Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray. After beating the 21-year-old netminder four times on 35 shots in Game 1, the Capitals have only scored three goals on their past 73 shots over Games 2 and 3. Murray’s .935 save percentage through three games of the series has helped Pittsburgh take a 2-1 series lead into a crucial Game 4.
If Washington is without an offensive weapon in Johansson, it will allow the Penguins to put even more focus on shutting down Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov. That trio combined for 90 goals and 218 points in the regular season, but has only managed one goal and five points through three games against Pittsburgh. Johansson’s two goals and seven points put him fourth in scoring for the Capitals this post-season, and he’s skating important second-line minutes for Washington.
During Tuesday’s practice, Stanislav Galiev skated in Johansson’s place. Galiev suited up for only 24 games this season and managed three assists and little more than nine minutes of ice time per night.