OTTAWA | Alex Ovechkin stepped onto the ice at Scotiabank Place before the Zamboni was even done resurfacing after Ottawa Senators practice.
As most Washington Capitals players waited and the cameres focused in on him, the star left wing skated around in circles looking like he was testing something out.
Cruising around the ice, he turned corners and shot some pucks by himself. After finishing his skating, Ovechkin stood next to the bench talking to trainer Greg Smith.
He tried to do some full strides as the skate was beginning and came back to the bench shaking his head. He then stepped off after eight minutes.
“I just don’t feel well this morning. We’re going to see how it goes tonight,” Ovechkin said. “I feel how I feel on the ice and how I breathe and everything like that.”
Coach Dale Hunter called him a game-time decision with a “lower-body” injury.
“I don’t feel pretty good right now, but we’ll see how it goes before the game,” Ovechkin said.
Washington recalled forward Keith Aucoin from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League earlier in the morning as insurance. The Caps did line rushes at Tuesday’s practice in Raleigh, N.C., potentially preparing for Ovechkin’s absence.
Those lines included a top trio of Jason Chimera with Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer.
But Hunter insisted what knocked Ovechkin out for six minutes Monday night was an equipment problem and the captain’s absence from Tuesday’s workout was a “maintenance day.”
“He had an equipment problem and we just give him a maintenance day today, so he should be good tomorrow,” Hunter said Tuesday.
A team spokesman said in an email that this was an optional morning skate. Alexander Semin and Jeff Halpern took that option not to be on the ice.