Alex Ovechkin may not play for the Washington Capitals against the New York Islanders on Tuesday.
The forward missed a 6-3 win at New York on Saturday because of a lower-body injury.
He left late in the third period of a 1-0 shootout win against the Islanders on Thursday. He had four shots on goal in 17:18 of ice time.
“I think with some injuries, you don’t know what’s going to go on, whether somebody’s going to be available or not available and that’s why I think people say ‘day to day’, because they’re unsure,” Washington coach Peter Laviolette said Saturday. “Will he be there for the next game? I’m not sure at this point, so we’ll err on the side of caution at this point in the season. We’re not going to risk anything as we head towards the playoffs, but hopefully he continues to improve.”
Ovechkin leads the Capitals with 24 goals in 43 games and has scored 730 goals, one from tying Marcel Dionne for fifth in NHL history.
Ovechkin last missed a game because of an injury March 5, 2015 against the Minnesota Wild (lower body). Since then, he missed three games because he was suspended for skipping the NHL All-Star Game in 2016, 2019 and 2020. He also was a healthy scratch for one game in 2015-16 because he overslept for a practice and sat the final game of that season to rest for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Capitals were 3-0-1 while Ovechkin was in NHL COVID-19 protocol from Jan. 20-29.
“We all know what kind of player he is and what he brings to the team,” Washington center Nicklas Backstrom said. “But it’s a challenge for other players to step and take responsibility when he’s out of the lineup. We see that as a challenge as a group. That’s something we talked about.”
Washington (31-13-4) is first in the eight-team MassMutual East Division, one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and three points ahead of the Islanders. The top four teams qualify for the playoffs.