Andre Burakovsky continues to inch toward a return to the Capitals’ lineup.
The latest indication that he’s getting close? On Saturday, Burakovsky hit the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex with strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish, a couple of skaters and a goaltender.
As you can see, Burakovsky, who suffered a broken left thumb Oct. 21 and had surgery three days later, is beginning to ramp up his workouts. Saturday’s 45-minute skate included some stick-checking and as well as a little light contact.
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The original prognosis was that Burakovsky would miss six to eight weeks. It’s now looking like he’ll be on the shorter side of that window. In fact, he could return to practice in the next week or so, assuming there’s no setback.
“Not really clear but I do know that he’s skating and he’s handling some pucks,” Coach Barry Trotz said Friday. “The strength in the area, the region, is getting much stronger. We shook hands the other day, so it’s coming.”
The challenge for Burakovsky isn’t conditioning—he’s been skating for three weeks and handling pucks now for several days—it’s regaining his timing and being able to unload 100-percent on his shot.
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The progress to this point has been slow and steady. Saturday’s session, though, represented a breakthrough as he felt more comfortable and confident than previous on-ice workouts.
Prior to getting hurt, Burakovsky had a goal and three assists in nine games. The Caps are currently carrying 22 players (one under the max) but will still have to move someone in order to accommodate Burakovsky's $3 million cap hit.
Tom Wilson scored twice, Nicklas Backstrom recorded four helpers and the assistant coaches chipped in with a big assist in Montreal, where the Caps earned a 6-4 victory over the Canadiens on Saturday night.
The win was Washington’s third in a row and seventh in eight games as they close in on another Metro Division title. Caps Coach Barry Trotz, meantime, claimed victory No. 200 in Washington; his next win will equal Bruce Boudreau for second all-time in franchise history.
Tarik’s three stars of the game:
1-Tom Wilson, Capitals
Wilson’s all-around game continues to blossom…and the Caps’ big winger continues to fill up the scoresheet. At Bell Centre, he scored back-to-back goals less than four minutes apart in the first period to put the Caps in command. Wilson also missed an empty net in the closing seconds by just a few inches. The soon-to-be 24-year-old now has 13 goals—six more than his previous career high.
2-Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals
Backstrom notched four assists and, as usual, he did it quietly. And they weren’t cheapies—three of the four helpers were of the primary variety. Backstrom, who has four goals and 12 assists in his last 12 games, has now notched four or more points 20 times in his career. It was also his 11th-career four assist game.
3-Leonhardt and Ohashi, Capitals
That’s right, I’m giving the third star to assistant coaches Brett ‘Stretch’ Leonhardt and Tim Ohashi. They quickly spotted that the Habs were offside on their second goal. And, after a coach’s challenge, the refs agreed. Instead of 2-0, it remained 1-0 and the Caps took full advantage of their second chance, scoring the game’s next four goals.
Agree? Disagree? Tell us what you think in the comments.
What: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens
Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
When: 7:00 p.m. ET
How to Watch: Capitals-Canadiens will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.
Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.
WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-CANADIENS GAME?
The Capitals (43-24-7) take on the Canadiens (27-36-12) Saturday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Montreal.
WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-CANADIENS GAME ON?
The Capitals-Canadiens game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. for postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)
6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals at Canadiens
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-CANADIENS GAME?
You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.
CAPITALS-CANADIENS OPEN THREAD
Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans.
For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.