Published September 18, 2015
NEW YORK -- The Washington Capitals needed to find a replacement for Mike Knuble -- the guy most likely to be causing chaos in front of the opposing net -- because he was out with an injury for Game 4 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers.
Washington's forward corps is full of big-bodied veterans and there are a few obvious candidates. As it turned out Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, the player who best replaced the oldest guy on the team was the youngest.
Marcus Johansson, with all of three NHL postseason games on his resume before this contest, scored a pair of Knuble-esque goals in the third period to help the Capitals erase a three-goal deficit and eventually claim a 4-3 victory in double overtime.
"It always feels good to score," Johansson said. "It doesn't really matter who scores; the best thing is we won and if feels very good now."
Alexander Semin started Washington's comeback early in the third period, and Johansson made it seem like more of a possibility just 57 seconds later on the team's next shift.
Johansson carried the puck into the offensive zone and sent a cross-ice pass to Brooks Laich and went to the net. Eventually Laich spun and sent the puck toward the crease and Johansson was there to deflect it past Henrik Lundqvist.
Later in the period John Carlson wound up for a slap shot from the left point and there was Johansson -- in front of the net for a screen on Lundqvist. The puck hit off his hand and was in the net to tie the score at three.
"You always go where you think the puck is going," Johansson said. "[Laich] made a good play on the first goal and the second goal [Carlson] just shot it and it hit me. Those are the lucky bounces you have sometimes. That's what you need to win games."
Johansson also assisted on the game-winning goal by Jason Chimera. He logged 26:27 of ice time -- that's more than four minutes more than he's played in any other game this season and only the fourth time he's gotten more than 19 minutes.
He might not have been the most obvious candidate to replace the 38-year-old, but the 20-year-old Johansson did his best impersonation -- and the Capitals reaped the benefits.
"Oh, exactly -- yeah," Chimera said with a laugh when asked if he expected Johansson to replace Knuble. "Marcus is getting better every game he plays. He played better and better tonight and he was all over the place. He's played in all situations, which is nice and I can't say enough nice things about him."