By Katie Adler
When Alex Ovechkin returns to the ice Thursday night, TJ Oshie knows he won’t do it alone.
Captain Alexander Ovechkin is set to make his return against the Anaheim Ducks following the death of his father, Mikhail.
“I think it’ll make for an emotional return,” said Oshie, “He’s our leader, our captain. It’ll be super important to get him back. Just having him being around the guys, I think that alone will bring the spark that maybe we need to get out of this rut we’re in.”
Oshie lost his own father, Tim, during the 2020-2021 season. Later that week, TJ scored his fourth career hat trick in his return to play against the New York Rangers.
Following Thursday’s morning skate, Oshie spoke to Ben Raby on both that 2021 game and on Ovechkin’s upcoming return.
“I knew – and I think O knows – how much we support each other with things that are bigger than hockey,” said Oshie. “The performance after that, I’m not saying it’s a guarantee, it can definitely go one of two ways, but I felt like Coach Osh was with me on my night in my return and that’s why those pucks seemed to keep coming towards me that game.
“We’re all super excited for the big man to return him and to support him,” Oshie added. “I imagine he’s going to have an angel watching over him tonight.”
Ovechkin has called the loss of his father “the toughest situation I’ve been through all NHL career,” adding “I just want to come back right away.”
Head Coach Peter Laviolette also spoke on Ovi’s desire to make an impact in his first game back.
“I think Alex wants to come back and help our team be successful, whatever that means. Whether it’s him scoring three goals or one goal or just playing a great game, and our team winning a hockey game, that’s probably first and foremost on his list…I’m sure he wants to come back and have a presence in the game.”
When it comes to Thursday’s game, Oshie made one final request for the fans: get loud for Ovi.
“I imagine the crowd’s going to be rocking,” he said, “hopefully we’ll get a bunch of ‘Ovi’ chants tonight, which he deserves.”
"Hopefully we'll get a bunch of 'Ovi' chants tonight, which he deserves."@TJOshie77 talks the importance of getting on the board early and the return of Alex Ovechkin on Rinkside Update with @VogsCaps.#CapsDucks | @MedStarHealth pic.twitter.com/coC03Y01ek
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 23, 2023
Headline photo: Katie Adler/RMNB
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