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Uh oh, Capitals lose Alex Ovechkin to injury

Uh oh, Capitals lose Alex Ovechkin to injury

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 24: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals looks on against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period at Capital One Arena on April 24, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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[UPDATE: The Capitals announced on Tuesday that Ovechkin is “day-to-day.” They host the Islanders Tuesday night.]

The Capitals witnessed a troubling sight during Sunday’s game against the Maple Leafs: Alex Ovechkin leaving the game with an upper-body injury.

It’s not yet clear how long-lasting this issue might be for Ovechkin. However, it’s at least bad enough that Ovechkin didn’t return to the Capitals’ game against the Maple Leafs.

The Maple Leafs ended up beating the Capitals 4-3 via a shootout.

Alex Ovechkin injured; Capitals Maple Leafs

Ovechkin went crashing into the boards after being tripped up by an Erik Källgren poke check on a breakaway. You can see Ovechkin grimacing from the impact:

Russian Machine Never Breaks’ Ian Oland noted that Ovechkin also was shaken a bit by a blocked shot earlier in the game.

Following this game vs. the Maple Leafs, the Capitals have three games left: at home (Tuesday) then on the road (Thursday) vs. the Islanders, then they end the regular season vs. the Bruins in Boston.

Whether this ends up being significant or the Capitals are just erring on the side of safety with Ovechkin, it brings up a question. Should teams like the Capitals aim to rest players -- particularly veterans such as Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom -- over this last week?

On one hand, the Capitals are battling the Penguins for playoff positioning. Washington has a real chance to overtake Pittsburgh, possibly gaining the Metropolitan’s third spot instead of a wild-card draw.

On the other hand, the Capitals already clinched their playoff spot. They’re a veteran team that’s succeeded with a lesser seed, and failed after winning a Presidents’ Trophy.

It’s also clear that the Capitals will face a tough first-round opponent whether they pass or stay behind the Penguins. This 82-game season is a grind. Maybe a fresher group of players can help the Caps make the most out of this opportunity?

If Ovechkin’s injured, they might not really have much of a choice.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.