The Washington Times - February 24, 2012, 10:55AM

Alex Ovechkin didn’t skate through the Washington Capitals’ full morning skate, but the captain was not mincing words about his availability for Friday night’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Ovechkin said he’s playing.


“I feel much better, so it’s good,” he said. “Right now I’m ready to go.”

Ovechkin skating solo for five minutes before practice and then took the ice with teammates, wearing a red jersey as everyone else wore white. He came off after about 15 minutes, but he expressed optimism about the lower-body injury and how it feels.

“We just try a couple days ago skating,” he said. “Last night I didn’t feel well. Today I feel normal.”

Ovechkin missed Wednesday night’s 5-2 loss at the Ottawa Senators.

“It was frustrating especially in this period of time in the season. I was in situation I can’t help my teammates and I can’t help the team to win,” the star left wing said. So it was kind of bad feelings, but it is what it is and right now I feel normal and ready to go.”

Asked if he’d be playing even if the Caps led the Southeast Division by 10 points and not chasing a playoff spot, Ovechkin said, “Yeah.”

“Even if you have something big, you still want to be in and help the team,” Ovechkin said. “But if you can’t help the team and you know you’re not going to be like a hundred or 80 percent, it’s not going to be worth it.”

Coach Dale Hunter confirmed that Ovechkin would play, a welcome sight for the Caps.

“You’re always going to miss your top goal-scorer. He’s Ovi,” the coach said. “You’re going to miss his play.”

Hunter also made it clear that Ovechkin was good enough to go even if Washington was in a comfortable situation in the standings.