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CAPITALS: Jeff Halpern Replaces Jay Beagle In Game 6 Victory
WASHINGTON – Despite pregame assurances by Washington Capitals coach Dale Hunter that center Jay Beagle would be in the lineup, the third-line center was scratched for the 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers on Wednesday and replaced by Jeff Halpern, who made his first playoff appearance and played in his first game since March 23.
Beagle didn’t participate in the morning skate after sustaining an undisclosed injury in the Capitals’ 3-2 overtime loss Monday at Madison Square Garden. He did block a slap shot by the Rangers’ Anton Stralman off his right knee at 2:05 of the second period.
Hunter said two hours before the game Beagle “would play no matter what, if you know Beags” after saying earlier in the morning Beagle was “just resting his legs.”
“Jay’s been logging tons of minutes as we all know, and he’s been doing all the key things that have been helping us succeed, the little areas that a lot of times go unnoticed but are extremely important,” defenseman Karl Alzner said.
Beagle played in 41 games for the Capitals this season, missing 31 after sustaining a concussion Oct. 13 against Pittsburgh but playing fairly steadily since. He had been Washington’s top right-handed faceoff specialist in the postseason, winning a team-high 54 percent of his draws entering Wednesday, and had also served a crucial role on the penalty kill.
Halpern, who also filled in for Beagle in the morning skate, was a healthy scratch for 11 of the last 14 regular season games but played all but one of the previous 68. He was on for 20 shifts and saw 10:23 of ice time, most notably missing four minutes for a double-minor high-sticking call on the Rangers’ John Mitchell that bloodied the bridge of his nose.
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