Alex Ovechkin could play for the Washington Capitals against the Boston Bruins at Capital One Arena on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, NBCSWA, NESN, NHL.TV) after being cleared to return from the list of players unavailable to play or practice in accordance with NHL COVID-19 protocols.
Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said the status of Ovechkin and defenseman Dmitry Orlov, who was also cleared to return, would be decided later Saturday after each took part in the morning skate. Ovechkin skated on a line with T.J. Oshie at center and Richard Panik at right wing. Orlov was on the extra defense pair with rookie Martin Fehervary, who is on Washington’s taxi squad.
“Yeah, I have my bye week already so I feel pretty rested and ready to go,” Ovechkin said Saturday. “Obviously I don’t have lots of time to spend on the ice but I did some workouts in my gym and did some running so try to do the max that I could do.”
Ovechkin, Orlov, center Evgeny Kuznetsov and goalie Ilya Samsonov have been in quarantine and on the NHL COVID-19 list since Jan. 20. Kuznetsov and Samsonov remain in quarantine and unavailable to play.
“It [stinks], obviously,” Ovechkin said. “No one wants to be [in protocol], no one wants to put yourself in that position. But you know it’s over so you learn from it and move forward.”
Laviolette said after the Capitals’ optional practice Friday that he didn’t know if any of the four players would play without going through at least one full practice first.
“I’m not skirting it, I don’t know,” Laviolette said. “I’ve never been here before. Oftentimes when players are just injured or they’re on long-term [injured reserve], they’re out on the ice before practice and eventually they might work into a practice and then they might come off long-term IR. So those are typical things that we deal with. But I’m not sure about this case exactly.
“I think whenever the players come out, they’re available, I’ll have conversations with them, and I’ll figure it out from there.”
The Capitals (5-0-3) are 3-0-1 without Ovechkin, Orlov, Kuznetsov and Samsonov.
“Yeah it was a great response by teammates and by team, obviously we got points and that is the most important thing,” Ovechkin said. “Obviously happy for the guys who had the opportunity to step up and play well and it was fun to watch.”
Before going into quarantine, Ovechkin scored five points (one goal, four assists) in four games. The 35-year-old has 707 goals in 16 NHL seasons, one behind Mike Gartner for seventh all-time.
Orlov played in 401 consecutive regular-season games before missing the past four. He doesn’t have a point in four games but is second on the Capitals with an average ice time of 20:49 per game.
Center Lars Eller skated in a non-contact jersey Saturday but is expected to miss his second straight game because of a lower-body injury sustained in a 3-2 win against the New York Islanders on Tuesday.
Defenseman Justin Schultz, who was hit in the face with a shot during a 6-3 win against the Islanders on Thursday, did not practice Saturday.