By Sky Kerstein

The Capitals, who come off being shutout for the second straight home game for the first time since March 2001, practiced today as they prepare for game four (1-2 so far) tomorrow in their crucial five game homestand hosting the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Caps are one point out of the final playoff spot in the East behind the Winnipeg Jets, but the Caps have one game in hand.  The Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning  are right on the Caps heels and both one point behind the Caps with the same number of games played.

Center Nicklas Backstrom, whose been out since January 3rd with a concussion, is in Sweden right now spending time with his family and getting away from hockey.  A Swedish news report said Backstrom was seeing a specialist while in Sweden, the Caps deny the report and say he is strictly there to be with family.  Backstrom is expected to be back Sunday, March 11th and will be re-evaluated then.  The Caps sent Mike Green home to Calgary last season when he had a concussion to be with his family and Green returned for the start of the playoffs.

Goalie Tomas Vokoun practiced today after missing last game with a lower body injury in which he says he aggravated ten days ago and was sore, but feels better now.

“Hopefully if I feel good tomorrow,”  Vokoun said.  “I’m available for whatever they want me to do, we’ll see.”

Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter said they’ll know today how Vokoun is and decide from there on if they’ll keep goalie Braden Holtby here or send him back to AHL Hershey.

The Caps forward lines today looked like:  Ovechkin-Laich-Johansson, Chimera-Perreault-Semin, Hendricks-Beagle-Brouwer, Knuble-Aucoin-Halpern-Ward.

Mike Knuble played in his first game since February 22nd last night and was happy with his play.

“I felt great,”  Knuble said.  “Ten days off will make you feel pretty good.”

Listen here to what Dale Hunter, Alex Ovechkin, Matt Hendricks, Jeff Halpern ,Tomas Vokoun and Mike Knuble had to say following practice today.

Dale Hunter Practice Audio

Alex Ovechkin Practice Audio

Matt Hendricks Practice Audio

Jeff Halpern Practice Audio

Tomas Vokoun Practice Audio

Mike Knuble Practice Audio


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