Ovechkin injured as Capitals lose in shootout

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9: 31 PM ET

  • ESPN News Services

WASHINGTON — There’s much for the Washington Capitals to evaluate after a tough loss late in the season and an injury that could cloud their entire playoff outlook.

Alex Ovechkin was injured early in the third period of a 4-3 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday night, crashing into the boards and getting ruled out with an upper-body injury. His teammates blew a two-goal lead and missed a huge opportunity to climb up the standings.

Ovechkin’s uncertain status is the most alarming situation facing the Capitals with the playoffs beginning in just over a week.

” I haven’t spoken to the trainer yet, but we’ll get an assessment on him,” Peter Laviolette, a tight-lipped coach, said. “We’ll get an assessment and see where he is at. ”

Ovechkin tripped over Toronto goaltender Erik Kallgren‘s stick after failing to score on a breakaway attempt. His left arm and shoulder came into contact with the boards. He remained on the ice several seconds, while the arena went quiet.

” I think he skated into mine and tripped on it. It was not my intention, Kallgren stated. “It was clear that he was frustrated, but it wasn’t my intention to trip him. I didn’t intend to injure him, so I’m glad he’s okay. ”

Ovechkin jumped to his feet and skewed off the ice with his stick before he could seek medical attention. Ovechkin yelled at officials that no penalty was being called for the play.

The Russian star who is a consistent durable player usually recovers from minor injuries and stays on his bench. Ovechkin, however, went straight down the tunnel and did not return.

“I’ve never met anyone tougher than that guy,” said Washington winger T.J. Oshie, who scored and had another would-be goal taken off the board by a coach’s challenge. We all hope he’s okay. I spoke to him just now and I believe he will be fine. It’s always frightening to see the ‘Big 8’ fall on the ice. He’s a tough man. If there was one person I could imagine who wouldn’t miss more time than he has to, it would be ‘8. ”’

The Capitals built a two-goal advantage not long after Ovechkin, who was clearly in pain, left the game. They left with just a point after Toronto’s Alex Kerfoot scored to end the seven-round shootout.

Washington had the chance to move into third place in the Metropolitan Division with three games left to play in the regular season after the rival Pittsburgh Penguins lost at Philadelphia earlier in the day. After the Maple Leafs called for too many players on the ice, the Capitals lost OT due to an inept power play.

Ovechkin ranks fourth in the NHL this season with 50 goals. His 780 goals rank third on the career list behind only Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe.

Throughout his career, Ovechkin has shown remarkable durability, even now at age 36. The only two games he missed so far this season were for COVID-19 protocol reasons.

Washington has three games left in the regular season: two against the New York Islanders and one at the Rangers, before the playoffs start May 2.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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