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Beagle returns, Vrana sits as Caps host Columbus in Game 2

New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield (42) defends against Washington Capitals center Jay Beagle (83) in front of the crease during the second period of an NHL hockey game in New York, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
PREGAME: BARRY TROTZ WITH JOHN WALTON ON CAPITALS RADIO NETWORK

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ARLINGTON, Va. — Center Jay Beagle will return to the Washington Capitals lineup tonight for Game 2 against the Columbus Blue Jackets at 7:30 p.m.

“I feel good,” Beagle said after Sunday’s morning skate. “The extra two days here [between games], were big for recovery. I feel really good. I’m excited to get my first playoff game in 2018.”

Beagle missed the final three games of the regular-season and Game 1 of the postseason with an upper-body injury. The Blue Jackets took the series opener 4-3 in overtime.

With Beagle returning, rookie Jakub Vrana will sit as a healthy scratch. Vrana skated 6:58 in his NHL postseason debut Thursday in Game 1 and had the primary assist on a Devante Smith-Pelly goal in the third period.

Vrana also drew an Ian Cole hooking penalty early in the first period, but the 22-year-old struggled with puck management and committed multiple turnovers.

“We felt that this is the lineup we need to go with tonight,” said head coach Barry Trotz. “I thought [Vrana] made a really good play on the goal. He didn’t have a lot of ice time, and there’s some things we need to clear up in his game and get him a reset. We’ll see where we are next game.”

Brett Connolly will take Vrana’s spot on the third line and skate alongside Lars Eller and Smith-Pelly. Connolly had 15 goals and a career-high 27 points in 70 games during the regular season.

“I just think Conno, for him, I thought he is had a real good second half in terms of his overall game,” said Trotz. “It’s been pretty decent. So, I think an opportunity, him and Lars seem to have some chemistry, which they’ve had the last couple years. I think that could hopefully be a real good line for us.”

Below is the Capitals projected Game 2 lineup:

8 Alex Ovechkin — 92 Evgeny Kuznetsov — 43 Tom Wilson

65 Andre Burakovsky — 19 Nicklas Backstrom — 77 T.J. Oshie

10 Brett Connolly — 20 Lars Eller — 25 Devante Smith-Pelly

18 Chandler Stephenson — 83 Jay Beagle — 39 Alex Chiasson

9 Dmitry Orlov — 2 Matt Niskanen

6 Michal Kempny — 74 John Carlson

44 Brooks Orpik — 28 Jakub Jerabek

31 Philipp Grubauer

70 Braden Holtby

Scratches: Jakub Vrana, Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos, Shane Gersich, Travis Boyd


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