For spurts, it looked like Alex Ovechkin never left. He was throwing his body around and sniping shots from the faceoff circles at the level that has earned him plenty of hardware during his NHL career.
But then there were times Tuesday night where the Capitals superstar looked like a guy trying to get back into the swing of game action.
“I felt kind of weird, but I miss three games,” Ovechkin said after the 3-2 shootout loss to the Hurricanes. “It was pretty hard when you’re coming back after three games sitting out. But every shift, every period I was feeling better and better.”
Ovechkin had missed three games (at Philadelphia, at Ottawa and at Montreal) with an undisclosed “nagging” injury. He admitted he got some chances to score but didn’t feel quite with the flow of the game, something his coach agreed with.
“I thought his timing was off a little bit on some things,” Bruce Boudreau said. “He had a lot of energy and he had a lot of hits. But I mean you can tell that sometimes the timing is off.”
Ovechkin was asked if he was sore and said no. He came to the defense of Dennis Wideman after an open-ice hit from Tuomo Ruutu in the second and wasn’t afraid to unleash himself on the Hurricanes. But as Boudreau pointed out, Ovechkin wasn’t at his sharpest.
“You skating hard in practice, but in a game it’s different,” Ovechkin said. “I’m glad I’m back, but it’s not good we lost.”
As for Arnott (who didn’t speak to reporters afterward), it wasn’t as noticeable. He was back on the power play and helped Alexander Semin’s game on the offensive end substantially, as has been the case since the Caps acquired him.
Arnott’s adjustment wasn’t as pronounced, even though he missed six games.
“Arny plays a different kind of game,” Boudreau said. “He’s playing a little more in control than Alex is, so it’s hard to tell. He uses his experience a lot more.”
Experience is something Arnott has tried to impart on Ovechkin since arriving. And now the teammates who bonded over being injured will try to do the same while rounding back into game shape.