Washington Capitals: John Carlson doesn’t practice Thursday

John Carlson of the Washington Capitals wasn’t on the ice.

After a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in their lone exhibition game, the Washington Capitals returned to practice on Thursday but their best defensemen John Carlson wasn’t with them.

Carlson fell awkwardly into the boards and left the game in the final half of the third period. Capitals head coach Todd Reirden took him out of the game as a precaution. He and the Caps hope to have him back for practice on Saturday. The team is off on Friday.

Carlson got up on his own power on that hit that took place midway through the third period. He played one more shift before exiting the ice and heading to the locker room with trainer Jason Serbus.

Reirden said it was precautionary reasons he took Carlson out of the game due to it being just an exhibition. Saturday’s practice is at noon at the Ford Performance Centre and on the off day Carlson will be evaluated.

“Obviously a really important guy for our team. (He has had) a tremendous season and did a lot of good things in the game (Wednesday) and fell a little bit awkwardly and got tangled up, and so we kept him off (Thursday). We will evaluate every day, and best hope is to have him back on Saturday,” said Reirden.

The Caps first Round Robin game is scheduled for this Monday at 4 p.m. against the Tampa Bay Lightning. In the exhibition with the Hurricanes, Radko Gudas dressed as the seventh defensemen and will likely be in the lineup if Carlson can’t play. Gudas was on the ice for 12:33 including 2:19 on the penalty kill on Wednesday.

“I was taking a look at some different combinations and if there was an extended amount of power plays or penalty kills, how to utilize guys without having them sitting around the bench. And we had a couple different looks of things I liked, and I think that makes our team a dangerous matchup if we are able to use different players,” Reirden said.

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Reirden felt confident in his group after that performance on Wednesday. He also talked about how the intensity to begin the game was good planning and execution by the coaches and players. He hopes the team will carry that same energy into the Round Robin tournament.

Here’s hoping Carlson is back on the ice tomorrow and is ready for Monday’s game.