A late afternoon/early evening practice at Kettler Iceplex on Monday as the Caps return from the All-Star break to prepare for tomorrow’s game against Montreal. How do you know the Canadiens are in town? No seats available in the media room at Kettler Iceplex 90 minutes before practice. That, my friends, is a hockey town. The Canadiens were here early for a relatively short 45-minute practice of their own.

Washington recalled center Mathieu Perreault from AHL Hershey. He was sent down as a paper transaction for the All-Star break. Michal Neuvirth practiced in goal for the first time since leaving the game vs. Philadelphia on Jan. 18. But that’s just one practice so we’ll have to see if he’s ready to serve in a back-up role tomorrow.

Defenseman Tom Poti (lower-body injury) remains out, but forward Alex Semin – with the ink still drying on another one-year contract extension – could return against the Canadiens. He hasn’t played since Jan. 8 and coach Bruce Boudreau said it would be up to Semin if he’s ready to go and he hasn’t said that yet. 

Poti and forward Eric Fehr (upper-body injury, three-to-four weeks) both skated before practice with Semin, who then traded his yellow non-contact jersey for a gray one and participated fully during practice. Defenseman Tyler Sloan returned from his conditioning stint at Hershey and practiced, though Boudreau wasn’t sure if he would be officially recalled. Boudreau said Poti could start practicing with the team next week. Fehr may be ready for practice the week after. But Boudreau also cautioned that was a preliminary guess on both counts. 

Brooks Laich wasn’t at practice, which is a rarity for a player who has missed four games total over the last three-and-a-half seasons. But no worries. According to the Caps, Laich’s flight home was delayed. That’s why practice was pushed back initially anyway on Sunday. It had been scheduled for 2 p.m. But Laich still hadn’t landed by 4:15 today.

Mike Knuble was back on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Semin skated on the second line with Perreault and Jason Chimera. Marcus Johansson centered Matt Hendricks and Boyd Gordon on the third line with D.J. King, Dave Steckel and Matt Bradley comprising the fourth line.   

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