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May 3, 2022 4:02 pm

Capitals star Alex Ovechkin to return for Game 1 of playoffs

Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin will be on the ice Tuesday night when Washington and the top-seeded Florida Panthers open the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs in Sunrise, Fla.

He missed the Capitals’ final three regular-season games with an upper-body injury but returned to practice over the weekend.

“To be honest, I haven’t really noticed anything different,” Washington coach Peter Laviolette said Tuesday. “He was a full participant. He wasn’t held out of anything and he competed at full go, so just through the days leading up to this, I think his status becomes cleared and today he’s good to go.”

The Capitals were outscored 12-4 in the three games he missed.

The 36-year-old Ovechkin was injured April 24 in Washington’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He lost his footing after tripping over the stick of Maple Leafs goaltender Erik Kallgren and slammed into the boards with his left shoulder.

A three-time Hart Trophy recipient, Ovechkin leads the team in goals (50) and points (90) while playing in 77 games this season. He is 21 goals behind Hall of Famer Gordie Howe (801) for second all-time in NHL history.

Ovechkin has never missed a playoff game in his 17 seasons in the NHL.

“Alex always wants to play, but he was held out,” Laviolette said. “It was just best for him. He wants to play all the time. You’ve got to love a guy like that. He always wants in the lineup. But he was dealing with some stuff and it (was) best just to move forward and have ready for Game 1, if we could get him ready for Game 1.”

–Field Level Media

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