The star left wing might be more concerned with helping the Capitals rebound from a rare shutout Friday night when they host the league-worst Hurricanes.
Ovechkin was suspended two games after he initiated a knee-on-knee hit on the Hurricanes’ Tim Gleason(notes) 12:05 into a 3-2 win at Carolina on Nov. 30. He was given a 5-minute major penalty for kneeing and a game misconduct, but was down on the ice for several minutes before being helped off while Gleason was not hurt.
The Capitals (19-6-6) didn’t miss a beat without their top scorer, winning two games by outscoring their opponents 14-4.
Ovechkin returned Monday and scored two goals to power a 3-0 road victory over Tampa Bay as Washington won its sixth in a row. He also moved among the league’s scoring leaders with 20 goals after finishing as the top scorer in each of the last two seasons.
Ovechkin, however, came up empty on six shots Wednesday as the Capitals saw all 34 of their attempts on net stopped in a 3-0 loss at Buffalo. It was the first time Washington was shut out.
“They just played solidly defensively,” Ovechkin said. “But I think we didn’t play our game, at all. We didn’t get the puck in deep, and we didn’t control the offensive blue line. I had a couple of chances, especially in the first period, but I just missed the puck and missed the net. It happens.”
Washington, tied with San Jose with an NHL-leading 44 points while scoring a league-high 111 goals, hasn’t been shut out in consecutive games since March 6-9, 2007, capped by a 25-save performance from Cam Ward(notes) in a 3-0 loss to Carolina at the Verizon Center.
The Hurricanes (7-18-5) enter having lost six of eight and own the fewest points in the NHL at 19.
Ward might get a second consecutive start after making 27 saves in Wednesday’s 4-2 loss at New Jersey. It was his first action after missing 13 games due to an upper leg injury suffered when he was cut by the skate of Columbus’ Rick Nash(notes) on Nov. 7.
“I felt a little bit uncomfortable at times in the first period, but as the game went along I thought I settled down and played better in the second and the third,” Ward said. “By the end of the game, I felt like my normal self.”
Ward has struggled, going 2-10-3 with a 2.97 goals-against average in 16 games after posting career bests with 39 wins, a 2.44 GAA and six shutouts in 2008-09. He has a 3.19 GAA in losing three of his last four starts (1-2-1) in Washington.