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Andre Burakovsky is officially back for the Caps

Andre Burakovsky is officially back for the Caps

Andre Burakovsky is indeed back.

The Capitals winger participated in his first full-contact practice Friday and afterward confirmed that he’ll suit up against the Lightning at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Saturday night.

“I’m playing tomorrow,” said Burakovsky, who has been sidelined since Feb. 9 with a broken right hand. “I’ve been feeling pretty good lately. I talked to the doctor and obviously it’s not 100-percent. But it feels good and my shot is getting better. The doctor said it can’t get worse, even if it hurts sometimes when I shoot.”

He added: “I can’t really feel [pain] when I’m shooting. It’s more coming a little bit after because I’m not really thinking about it when I’m shooting [since] I’m so focused on my shot and what I’m supposed to do. Right after [the shot] I feel a little, bit but it’s not bad. It’s something I can live with.”

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Earlier in the day, prospect Jakub Vrana was demoted to Hershey to make room for Burakovsky, who had been on long-term injured reserve.

“I’m happy to see him back,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “Nothing against Jake, but you want to see Andre back.”

Burakovsky’s return couldn’t come at a better time for the Capitals, who are in need of a boost. They’ve lost five of their past six games while averaging less than 2.2 goals per game during that span.

During Friday’s practice, Burakovsky returned to his usual spot on the Caps’ third line with Brett Connolly and Lars Eller. Connolly and Eller have combined for just three goals and four assists without Burakovsky the past 15 games, a precipitous drop in production from the trio’s pre-injury level.

Eller said it’s too early to know if they’ll pick up where they left off but he said he’s optimistic.

“He makes the team better so we’re glad to have him back,” Eller said. “Andre looked good [and] he’s glad to be back.”

Connolly conceded it might take a couple of games to gel.

“If we can get anywhere close to what we were doing before the break, I think that would be good going into the playoffs,” Connolly said. “He’s obviously a big part of the team and we’re happy to have him back and hopefully we can pick up where we left off.”

Although Burakovsky’s shot may not be 100-percent yet, the 22-year-old winger said he’s in top physical condition after spending the past five weeks working almost exclusively on his skating and stamina.  

“I’m hungry,” said Burakovsky, who will wear a wrap on his wrist and hand for stabilization purposes. “I’ve been out for a while now and I can’t wait to get back in. I’m excited.”

MORE CAPITALS: Check out the latest edition of the Capitals Faceoff Podcast!

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Alex Ovechkin gets stitches to the lip after getting hit by puck, but he remains indestructible

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Alex Ovechkin gets stitches to the lip after getting hit by puck, but he remains indestructible

It's always scary when you see a player get hit in the head with a puck. It's even scarier when you're a fan of the Caps and that player is Alex Ovechkin.

But there's is one thing you should always remember before you worry about the Great 8: He is not built like a normal human being.

Ovechkin was struck in the face by a puck in the second period of Saturday's game against the Minnesota Wild. It was a scary moment made scarier by the pool of blood he left behind on the ice as he made his way to the locker room.

RELATED: 4 REASONS WHY THE CAPS BEAT THE WILD

"Anybody who takes a puck to the face, you hope that they're not hurt badly," Barry Trotz said after the game. "Anytime you get hit to the face there's usually pretty good leakage. I saw, I knew he got hit in the face and in the mouth area and there was pretty good leakage around our bench and he went off and we were just hoping that it's not too serious."

Remarkably, it wasn't serious. Ovechkin missed the remainder of the second period, but returned for the third. After the game, there were a few stitches in his lip, but otherwise there appeared to be no serious damage.

Ovechkin said that after he had been hit he "Just tried to feel my tooth and it was fine. Just moving a little bit, but it's fine. It's hockey."

The fact that no serious damage was done turned what was a scary moment into one both players and coach could laugh at afterward.

MORE CAPITALS: WHO WERE THE 3 STARS OF THE CAPS' WIN OVER MINNESOTA?

"He's a big strong man and he's got a few zippers so he's a lot better looking now that they fixed him up and all that," Trotz said. "It's when you get stitched up, that's the great thing about medicine, they can make you look great."

"It can be much worser," Ovechkin said when asked if he was scared in the moment. "I could lose my teeth."

Nicklas Backstrom had the same thought many of you are probably asking yourself right now: "Does he have any more teeth?"

It was just another reminder that Ovechkin is truly a machine. As the saying goes, "Russian Machine...never gets broken."

I think that's how it goes.

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4 reasons why the Caps beat the Wild

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USA TODAY Sports

4 reasons why the Caps beat the Wild

The Capitals snapped an ugly two-game losing streak as they returned home to defeat the Minnesota Wild 3-1 on Saturday.

Here's how they won.

A better start

It did not take long in Washington's loss to Nashville or Colorado for you to know the Caps were in trouble. Nashville hit the post in the first minute of the game, while the Avalanche scored 17 seconds in. Washington left both periods down 2-0. That was not the case on Saturday. The Caps showed a lot more energy right from the drop of the puck against Minnesota. This time instead of chasing the game, Washington took control and earned a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes.

Holtby’s impossible save

Protecting a 2-1 lead in the second period, Holtby kept the Caps ahead with an impossible save. After stopping a shot from Joel Eriksson that looked like it caught him in the collarbone, there was a battle for the rebound. Brooks Orpik tried to muscle Eriksson out, but Eriksson knocked into Holtby. Pinned by Orpik, Eriksson could not get away which left Holtby pinned against the right post. A trailing Kyle Quincey ended up with the puck and had half the net to shoot on so he smartly tried to tuck the shot just inside the left post. Somehow, some way, Holtby managed to stretch the glove out to get in front of the puck and keep Washington ahead.

Jason Zucker shut down

Minnesota forward Jason Zucker came into Saturday's contest with a five-game goal streak in which he has scored eight goals. That streak ended on Saturday as Zucker got a heavy dose of Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen on the blue line and the forward combo of Chandler Stephenson, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie. They held the Minnesota forward to just two shots on goal.

Just enough from the penalty kill

No one will mistake the Caps' penalty kill as a shutdown unit and they again allowed a power play goal on Saturday, the fourth they have allowed in three games. But the PK unit always seems to be at its best when the game is on the line. After giving up a goal on Minnesota's first opportunity, the Caps clamped down and killed off Minnesota's three other power play opportunities. In what was a tight game from start to finish, a goal in any of those three chances would have changed the course of the game dramatically.