- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 22, 2012

OTTAWA — Alex Ovechkin stepped onto the Scotiabank Place rink before the Zamboni was even off. The Washington Capitals captain skated around in circles and appeared to be testing something out with his stride.

After just eight minutes, Ovechkin skated to the bench, shaking his head in frustration before going off and down the tunnel.

“I feel how I feel on the ice and how I breathe and everything like that,” Ovechkin said. “I don’t feel pretty good right now, but we’ll see how it goes before the game.”

But Ovechkin, who’s suffering from what coach Dale Hunter called a “lower-body” injury, will not be in the lineup Wednesday night at the Ottawa Senators.

“[We approach it] the same way we’ve been trying to go into every game without Nicky [Backstrom]. You go out there and you play as well as you can with everybody in the lineup and everybody goes hard,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “That’s the thing. Whenever he’s out, everybody tries to pick up the slack; we know someone needs to score the goals and log that ice time. Guys just pick it up.”

Wednesday morning, the chances of his playing looked very bleak, as Ovechkin appeared not to be able to get up to full speed and was visibly unhappy when speaking to reporters.

“I just not feel well,” Ovechkin said. “I just don’t feel well this morning. We’re going to see how it goes tonight.”

Ovechkin might have been injured in a hit from Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Bryan Allen in the second period Monday night. He missed the final six minutes of the period and finished with just 15:43 of ice time. But Hunter claimed it was an “equipment” problem, and Ovechkin said it was “just a skate.” He missed Tuesday’s practice in Raleigh, N.C., with what the team called a “maintenance day.”

Wednesday was the first admission by Hunter that Ovechkin suffered an injury.

Keith Aucoin figures to step into the lineup if Ovechkin cannot play. The Caps practiced Tuesday with lines that included Jason Chimera on the top trio with Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer.

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