Ovechkin injured in Caps' loss

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 1, 2009

RALEIGH, N.C. -- For the second time in three games, Alex Ovechkin was ejected after being assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct.

But this time the threat of receiving a suspension from NHL was secondary to the injury the Washington Capitals' star suffered when he hit a Carolina player in open ice, knee-on-knee, in the first period Monday night at RBC Center.

With Ovechkin banished to the dressing room for most of the night, Nicklas Backstrom scored two goals and José Theodore made 38 saves to lift the Capitals to a 3-2 victory over the NHL-worst Carolina Hurricanes.

The victory, Washington's third straight, helped the Capitals keep pace with Pittsburgh and remain tied with the Penguins atop the Eastern Conference. But the possibility of losing Ovechkin to disciplinary action from the NHL and/or injury loomed large in the visitor's dressing room here.

"Anytime Alex is hurt, I'm concerned," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He's stiff right now. But I don't know how long he's going to be out, if he's out at all. With these things, the next morning you find out a lot more."

Ovechkin issued a no-comment to a reporter before boarding the team bus, saying he is under strict orders from team management not to discuss his injury or the hit that resulted in his ejection.

The two-time MVP walked with a slight limp, but did not appear to be wearing a brace and was not using crutches.

The hit occurred about 12 minutes into the game when Ovechkin lined up Carolina's Tim Gleason as the defenseman attempted to skate the puck out of the Hurricanes' zone. Gleason appeared to change directions just as Ovechkin went to deliver his shoulder to Gleason's chest and the result was a knee-on-knee collision that sent both players to the dressing room.

Gleason, however, returned moments later; Ovechkin, who had crumpled to the ice clutching his right knee and did not place any weight on the leg when he was helped off the ice moments later, was assessed five minutes for kneeing and a game misconduct.

"It looked like he leaned with his shoulder to me," Boudreau said. "Gleason put a good move to the inside and his leg followed through with him."

Carolina Coach Paul Maurice called the hit "dangerous."

"Gleason made a good move and he caught him with his knee," Maurice told reporters. "I don't know how you want to define the play, but it's dangerous for both players."

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