View Photo Gallery: The Washington Capitals defeat the Calgary Flames, 3-1.

After making his long-awaited return to the lineup Tuesday night, Mike Green was his own biggest critic.

“There was times where I felt like I had good jump and [others where] I didn’t have the energy to do it,” he said after the Capitals’ 3-1 win over Calgary. “It’s just a matter getting everything back and functioning properly.”

Asked to assess his performance, Green smiled, turned and began to walk away.

“I don’t even want to comment,” he said. “I’m hard on myself. Not close.”

But the fact that Green finished the game and could joke about his rustiness was a source of relief for both the defenseman and the Capitals. Green, the team’s No. 1 defenseman, had missed 29 of 30 games because of injury, the previous 23 because of a groin muscle strain.

“You’re rusty. You’re not going to play up to the standards that you want to play, but you’ve got to start somewhere,” Coach Dale Hunter said. “You’ve got to get the rust off.”

Green did not record a point in 15 minutes 43 seconds of ice time (only 49 seconds of which came on the power play). But he dished out three hits and blocked two shots. He also was credited with two giveaways and his only two shot attempts were blocked by Flames.

The Calgary native also was whistled for two minor penalties against his hometown team – one for holding in the first period and the other for interference in the third.

Afterward, though, Green said he felt good and hoped to practice Wednesday morning.

“I’ll see how I feel” Wednesday,s he said. “This was a good test for me to see where I’m at.”

Green did, however, sound encouraged that he’ll rediscover his form sooner rather than later.

“I just need to get the rust out of my game,” he said. “I’ll be back to normal soon.”

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