Alex Ovechkin has returned to the Washington Capitals after missing four games following the death of his father, Mikhail, last week.
Alex Ovechkin will return to the @Capitals lineup against the @AnaheimDucks after missing the past four games following the death of his father. https://t.co/KKR30Tfz0q
— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) February 23, 2023
Ovechkin hasn’t played with the Capitals since Feb. 12, but he returned to practice on Wednesday. Ovechkin told reporters that the death of his father was the “toughest situation” he has dealt with in his NHL career. Ovechkin said it was important for him to return to the ice and his teammates as quickly as possible after landing in the United States.
With 32 goals on the season, Ovechkin is the Capitals’ leading scorer by a wide margin. The team has lost every game in his absence, however. Ovechkin wants to turn his attention back to hockey and help the team out of its slump.
“I just want to come back right away and put my mind in a different position,” Ovechkin said. “We’re struggling right now, and I want to do my best to bring the energy and bring something to the team.”
Ovechkin’s status for Thursday night’s game against the Anaheim Ducks has not yet been confirmed by Washington head coach Peter Laviolette.
“I think he’s in a good spot. He took some time,” Laviolette said. “I think Alex wants to come back and help our team be successful, whatever that might be. Whether it’s him scoring three goals or one goal or just playing a great game and our team winning the hockey game is first and foremost on his list. I’m sure he wants to come back and have a presence in the game.”
As Ovechkin returns to action, the Capitals will try to climb back into playoff position. However, Washington has lost five straight games in regulation it is two points out of the second Wild Card spot with 23 games remaining in the regular season.
The Capitals are +275 to make the playoffs according to NHL sportsbooks. With Ovechkin coming back, however, the team will have more of a chance at the playoffs.