Vrana leads surging Capitals vs. Ducks

WASHINGTON -- Rookie forward Jakub Vrana is one of the young players the Washington Capitals are counting on to replace the goals they lost due to offseason departures.

After a bump in the road, he is doing that. The 21-year-old Vrana will be looking to score in his third straight game when the Capitals host the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night.

In Thursday's 5-3 win over Boston, Vrana gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead when he split a pair of defenders, drove the net and scored. Vrana has 10 goals and four assists in 32 games and is one of six NHL rookies with 10 or more goals.

"I saw the (defenseman) kind of turning, so I just tried to take advantage of it and get a little breakaway there," Vrana told the Washington Post. "Thankfully it went in. Yeah, I was happy with that one."

He's had a lot to be happy about lately. Playing on a line with Evgeny Kuznetsov, Vrana has six goals in his last 11 games.

Earlier in the season things weren't going so well. After a 13-game stretch in which he scored only two points, he was a healthy scratch Nov. 16. His turnaround started soon after.

"We have to replace those goals that we lost, either (Marcus Johansson) or (Justin Williams) or some of those guys that were in the top nine," coach Barry Trotz said. "Jakub was drafted to be an offensive player, obviously he shoots the puck extremely well. We were hoping that we could replace a lot of those goals and he's doing that."

Washington has won 6 of 7. Alex Ovechkin scored his 22nd goal of the season against Boston and his 16 even-strength goals matches his total from all of last season.

Anaheim (14-11-7) opened a six-game road trip Thursday night with a 3-1 win in St. Louis. They got a youthful boost from 24-year-old Kevin Roy, who scored twice.

Roy, sent down to San Diego Monday as injured players returned, was hastily called back due to an injury to Anaheim points leader Corey Perry and quickly paid dividends.

"It doesn't feel like I went back. It's just a new opportunity," Roy said. "I want to make the most of my chances. That's what happened today. ... It felt pretty good to make a difference and get the win."

Roy has six goals in 16 games with Anaheim this season.

"Every game you learn," Roy told NHL.com. "Once I'm in the offensive zone, I try to have creativity and play within myself. Just get out there, try to make plays and take care of the puck."

Coach Randy Carlyle had been pleased with Roy's play -- before and after his almost-return to the minors.

"He's a smart little player and he knows his way around the rink," Carlyle said. "The puck follows those guys. ... He's shown to us he's capable of making NHL plays."

The Ducks won for the second game in a row and have earned points in six straight (3-0-3).

Goalie John Gibson has allowed three goals in his last two games. He stopped 29 shots and lost a shutout bid against the Blues with 5:35 left to play, improving to 10-10-3.

Against the Capitals, Gibson is 0-2-1 with a 3.64 goals-against average and an .888 save percentage.

Washington's Braden Holtby, who made 34 saves against Boston, is 2-1, 3.25 and .878 against the Ducks.

Right wing T.J. Oshie (upper body injury) will miss his sixth game Saturday. "He skated today," Trotz told the Post. "Until he does a full practice and all that, he will not play."

Defenseman Brooks Orpik also missed Friday's practice with an upper body injury.

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