- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 21, 2012

RALEIGH, N.C. — Alex Ovechkin missed six minutes during the second period of the Washington Capitals’ 5-0 loss Monday night at the Carolina Hurricanes. He and coach Dale Hunter shrugged it off as an equipment issue, even as the star left wing finished with just 15:43 of ice time and no shifts in the final five minutes.

“Just a skate,” Ovechkin said Monday night after showing a noticeable limp.

Then came Tuesday when Ovechkin was absent from the Caps’ practice at Raleigh Ice Center. He was getting what the team called a “maintenance day,” and Hunter expects Ovechkin to play Wednesday night at the Ottawa Senators.

“He had an equipment problem, and we just give him a maintenance day today, so he should be good tomorrow,” Hunter said.

Explaining why Ovechkin and Brooks Laich didn’t see much ice time in the third period, Hunter pointed to the fourth line and the likes of Jay Beagle.

“I played everybody; you seen the minutes,” the coach said. “You’re down 5-zip. It’s nice to get Beagle some more ice time, stuff like that.”

When the Caps did line rushes at practice, Jason Chimera was skating on the top line with Laich and Troy Brouwer. There was an empty spot on the fourth line; a team spokesman said Tuesday afternoon there were no call-ups at that time.

Laich says he’s fine

Laich didn’t play the final 10:27 against the Hurricanes, with a hit in the third causing CSN color analyst Craig Laughlin to remark on the broadcast that the forward might have aggravated a knee injury suffered Feb. 5.

But the 28-year-old appeared to show no ill-effects at Wednesday’s practice and insisted, “I’m fine.” Asked about what Hunter told him about sitting in the third period, Laich was not willing to share much.

“I’m aware of what he said,” Laich said. “There’s nothing … I really don’t have a lot to say about it.”

Vokoun laments loss

Tomas Vokoun played just 5:09 of the 5-0 blowout, giving up two goals before getting the quick hook in Hunter’s attempt to “change momentum.”

It didn’t work, leaving the veteran goaltender to lament the performance his team put up, well after he was out and Michal Neuvirth was turning aside shots.

“I felt bad for Neuvy too,” Vokoun said. “It was a game I think he played well, and it could’ve been a lot worse than 5-0.”

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