Caps' Pivonka to play first game tonight


Washington Capitals center Michal Pivonka will play his first ,, game of the season tonight.

Pivonka, who signed a five-year, $5 million contract last week, had to sit out the first three games because of a suspension he received during last season's playoffs.

"It's been kind of frustrating," said Pivonka. "Holding out, playing Detroit with the IHL, was not the ideal thing to do. Sitting out another three games was not what I wanted to do, either.

"So I'll be ready. . . . I'm starting a new year, my 10th year. I'm not going to be nervous. I'm physically ready and I'm excited. I want to be out there."

Pivonka will be on a line with right wing Peter Bondra. On the left could be either Pat Peake or Jason Allison when offense is needed or Mike Eagles, Kelly Miller or, possibly, Craig Berube when the Caps are looking for more speed and defensive help.

"I think he'll give our team a lift," said Capitals coach Jim Schoenfeld. "He plays on the power play. He kills penalties. He was there before the holdout because he was one of the better guys to be there. So we should be improved on both special teams."

Capitals tonight

Opponent: St. Louis Blues

Site: Kiel Center, St. Louis

Time: 7

TV/Radio: No TV/WWLG (1360 AM), WTEM (570 AM).

HTC Outlook: The Capitals will play their third game in four days as they complete a three-game trip. The Blues (5-4-1) come off back-to-back 4-2 wins over Hartford and Anaheim. The Capitals and Blues met in the season opener, and Washington won, 4-1. Washington C Kevin Kaminski (ribs) is not expected to play. St. Louis reports that LW Tony Twist (biceps) is out.

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