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“I don’t think there is a malicious bone of him trying to hurt anybody,” Boudreau said. “He just plays hard, and he plays to win every shift. It is a really fine line between taking that away from him, and I don’t see how you can take it away without talking to him.”

The Caps won four of the six games they played without Ovechkin this season. They’ve also kept themselves near the top of the Eastern Conference despite a myriad of injuries. Two players in particular have upped their production: Eric Fehr (five goals in the past six games) and Tomas Fleischmann (five goals in the six games Ovechkin missed).

“We’ve faced injuries before, so it is nothing new to us,” forward Brooks Laich said. “We’ve found ways to win, and that’s been the identity of this team.”

Note - Alexander Semin (wrist), Tom Poti (chest) and Mike Knuble (broken finger) returned to practice Tuesday, but Shaone Morrisonn (concussion) did not skate a day after participating in pregame warmups.

Boudreau said he expects Poti back by Monday but didn’t rule out the defenseman for Thursday against Florida.

When told Semin doesn’t expect to play that day, Boudreau responded, “That’s news to me. I thought he looked pretty good out there today.”

Knuble is not eligible to come off long-term injured reserve until Tuesday, but he still hopes to play the next day at Buffalo. Boudreau said Morrisonn is “taking a couple of days off and then [will] restart” as he tries to recover from post-concussion symptoms.