With the Stanley Cup playoffs looming, the Washington Capitals will head into their final three games of the season with questions about the health of captain Alex Ovechkin. The 36-year-old suffered an upper-body injury in Sunday’s 4-3 shootout loss to Toronto.
On Sunday, T.J. Oshie said he spoke with Ovechkin after the game and said he thought he would “be all right.”
“I’ve never met anyone tougher than that guy,” Oshie said. “We all hope he’s fine.”
Ovechkin, who has 50 goals in 77 games, crashed hard into the end boards early in the third period Sunday night after he tripped over Toronto goaltender Erik Kallgren’s stick on a breakaway. He remained on the ice for a few moments, grimacing before slowly getting up and furiously yelling at the officials for the missed tripping call. He then went straight down the tunnel to the team’s locker room, throwing his helmet in frustration. Shortly after Ovechkin’s exit, he was ruled out of the game.
“I think he skated into my stick and tripped on it,” Kallgren said after the game. “It was not my intention to trip him and I hope he’s well.”
Ovechkin, who is known for his durability, has only missed 44 games in his 17-year NHL career, and only 24 of those games because of injury. He missed two games this season when he was in the NHL’s coronavirus protocols.
Before Ovechkin’s third-period exit, he was also in discomfort after blocking Maple Leafs defenseman Mark Giordano’s slap shot with his right foot in the opening frame. Ovechkin skated slowly to the bench but didn’t miss a shift, hopping back onto the ice after a TV timeout.
Washington canceled its scheduled practice and instead just took the team photo. Ovechkin was front and center in the picture, and was seen smiling in full uniform as he escorted team owner Ted Leonsis onto the ice.
The Capitals’ next game is Tuesday at home against the New York Islanders. Washington finishes off the regular season on a two-game road trip in New York.
Washington has been planning a pregame ceremony on Tuesday to honor Ovechkin for passing Jaromir Jagr for sole possession of third place on the NHL’s all-time goals list. Whether Ovechkin plays or not, the ceremony is still scheduled to take place.
If Ovechkin does not play Tuesday, it would appear either Connor McMichael or Axel Jonsson-Fjallby will take his place in the lineup. McMichael, 21, has not played since April 10. Jonsson-Fjallby, 24, has not played since March 28. McMichael is more of a natural center, while Jonsson-Fjallby plays wing.