The Washington Capitals seem to be getting good news each day that Nicklas Backstrom skates, but 10 minutes into Thursday’s practice produced a scary moment.
Alex Ovechkin and Mike Knuble collided at center ice. Knuble was able to get right up, but Ovechkin lay on the ice for about two minutes. Assistant trainer Ben Reese attended to the captain on the ice.
Ovechkin skated to the bench on his own power but was doubled over. He sat there for 3 1/2 minutes, mostly with his head down. He soon left for the locker room.
Coach Dale Hunter downplayed concerns.
“He’s fine. Just two big guys colliding full speed,” Hunter said. “Just a big collision. It knocks the wind out of you. When you lose your wind, that’s not fun.”
Hunter said Ovechkin was leaving with the team on its afternoon flight to Winnipeg and is expected to play against the Jets.
When Ovechkin suffered an injury in the Caps’ Feb. 20 game at the Carolina Hurricanes, Hunter and his star left wing both claimed it was an equipment issue dealing with his skate. Only two days later when Ovechkin was clearly testing something out on the ice in Ottawa did the coach admit he had a lower-body injury.
Ovechkin did not speak with reporters Thursday.
Backstrom, who has been out two months with a concussion, spoke to reporters about 10 minutes after Ovechkin left the ice.
“I can just speak from my situation,” Backstrom said of Ovechkin. “I’m worried too, but we’ll see what happens.”
Just last week when asked about Mike Green’s hit on Brett Connolly that earned the defenseman a three-game suspension, Ovechkin said that he took a hit to the head that no one noticed.
“I got pretty big concussion and I don’t know what happens,” Ovechkin said in a joking tone. “I can’t remember, you know.”