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Ovechkin on leading shorthanded Capitals: “I like when it’s tough”

Alex Ovechkin Andrei Kostitsyn

Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin,l eft, and Montreal Canadiens’ Andrei Kostitsyn battle for the puck during first period NHL hockey action, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012 in Montreal. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)


Considering the talent on their injured list, some might take to calling Alex Ovechkin’s team the wounded Washington Capitals.

The (also quite banged-up) Florida Panthers won’t shed a tear for their divisional opponent’s plight when the teams face off in a significant game* on Tuesday, though. That’s just fine with Ovechkin, who seemed confident that the Capitals can overcome the absence of players such as Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom when discussing the subject with’s Chuck Gormley.

“We’re going to need to play like we didn’t play yet this year,” Ovechkin said. “It’s going to be tough, but I like when it’s tough. You have to show your character, and you have to show your leadership.”

“We’re not going to cry. We’re not going to be asking for help from somebody. It’s all about us. We have to be together and play like a team.”

The Panthers topped the Capitals 4-2 last Wednesday - and that was with a healthy Brooks Laich in the lineup. Washington’s rugged center injured his leg on Sunday, so the Capitals will likely lean on captain Ovechkin even more than usual tomorrow.

* - At the moment, it seems like the Southeast winner might just be the only team in that division to make the playoffs. The Capitals (58 points) are in ninth place while the Panthers (59) would secure the third seed if the playoffs began today.