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Capitals’ Connor Brown will be out long term, is placed on injured reserve

Connor Brown, right, suffered a lower-body injury in Monday's game against Vancouver. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)
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Washington Capitals winger Connor Brown will be out long term with a lower-body injury, the team announced Wednesday. Whether he will require surgery was still being determined.

Brown’s injury occurred in the third period of Monday’s 6-4 win over Vancouver, when he took an awkward hit along the boards from Canucks defenseman Noah Juulsen. Brown had to be helped off the ice before he headed straight to the dressing room. He did not appear to put any weight on his right leg as he was being helped off.

The Capitals placed Brown on injured reserve Wednesday. Players must remain on IR for a minimum of seven days after the injury.

The 28-year-old has no points in four games this season, his first with the Capitals.

“We were really excited to have him here and be part of our organization,” Coach Peter Laviolette said. “Disappointing for us, disappointing for him. It’s unfortunate. … He’ll be missed while he’s out.”

Washington was counting on Brown to fill in while Tom Wilson recovers from surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee. Now the Capitals will scramble to find a replacement on the top line.

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“Guys are just going to have to step up and fill different positions,” Laviolette said. “There’s been a couple guys sitting out of the lineup really excited to get in there, so one of them will get a crack at it.”

Washington’s next game is Thursday at the Ottawa Senators, who traded Brown to the Capitals in July for a 2024 second-round draft pick. The Capitals will be without Brown and center Evgeny Kuznetsov, who was suspended one game Tuesday for high-sticking Vancouver’s Kyle Burroughs.

Without Kuznetsov and Brown, Connor McMichael and Joe Snively are projected to join the lineup. McMichael, 21, played 68 games for the Capitals last season and had nine goals and nine assists. Snively, 26, played 12 games with four goals and three assists.

McMichael, the Capitals’ first-round pick in the 2019 draft, said he hopes Thursday’s game will show why he deserves to be a full-time NHL player.

“I just need to show my compete level,” he said. “My intention out there is just to prove that I’m willing to battle for pucks and fight for ice time.”

The Capitals recalled Beck Malenstyn from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League. Malenstyn, 24, had one goal in 12 NHL games last season. He is projected to be an extra forward Thursday.

Washington also placed winger Carl Hagelin, who is out indefinitely after arthroscopic hip surgery, on long-term injured reserve. (He previously was on the injured nonroster list.) Center Nicklas Backstrom (hip resurfacing surgery) is also on LTIR. That designation allows the Capitals to exceed the salary cap.

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The Capitals did some major line shuffling at practice Wednesday. Center Lars Eller was elevated to the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Conor Sheary, and Dylan Strome moved down to the second line with Aliaksei Protas and T.J. Oshie.

McMichael and Snively are set to be on the third and fourth lines, respectively. It appears McMichael will center the third line between Marcus Johansson and Anthony Mantha. On the fourth line, Snively will be the left wing with Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway. Snively also is expected to get an opportunity on the second power-play unit.

Washington tweaked its defensive pairings, too. Dmitry Orlov was teamed with John Carlson on the top unit, and Martin Fehervary slid down to play with Nick Jensen on the second. Washington briefly used those pairings in the third period of Monday’s comeback win, and Laviolette said that since they worked so well, the coaching staff wanted to see them in a full game.

“From a production standpoint, it just hadn’t been there,” Laviolette said. “So [assistant coach] Kevin McCarthy and I just talked. He thought that switching the pairs might just maybe create a spark.”