By Katie Adler
Alex Ovechkin was notably absent in the Capitals’ 5-3 loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday, missing the game due to a lower-body injury.
Ovechkin has been absent since Monday, when he missed the team’s practice at Madison Square Garden. At the time, the team cited maintenance as the reason for the absence, but whatever troubled Ovechkin proved severe enough to keep him out of Tuesday’s game.
The Capitals were also short Sonny Milano, who missed the game due to a non-COVID illness.
The missing players will have little time to recover if they want to get into the next game. The Caps will return to DC for the second half of a back-to-back, playing the Buffalo Sabres at home on Wednesday night.
After the game, Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette said he was uncertain whether Ovechkin and Milano could return against the Sabres.
“I have no idea,” said Laviolette. “Whatever our lineup is, it’s got to be ready and we gotta win a game.”
Ovechkin has now missed six games this season, though Tuesday’s was only his second absence due to injury. He missed one game in January with a lower-body injury, and spent four games away on personal leave following the death of his father in February. At this time, it is unclear whether Ovechkin’s current injury is related to the lower-body injury he dealt with earlier in the season.
Without Ovechkin, the Capitals have not won a single game, posting a record of 0-6-0. Even worse, they’ve been outscored without their captain, 27-12.
Laviolette expressed the urgency of winning Wednesday’s game as the Capitals are still pushing for a playoff spot.
“It’s obviously a big game for us,” he said. “You just look at the standings, the teams around you. This is a game we’ve got to win.”
For that to work, this team will either need to see their captain return or figure out a way to win without him.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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