- The Washington Times - Friday, February 24, 2012

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was forced to the press box at Scotiabank Place on Wednesday night, the first game he missed with injury this season. Watching his team lose to the Ottawa Senators was predictably difficult for Ovechkin, forced out with a lower-body injury, as he was not able to skate full-blast in recent days.

“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,” Ovechkin said. “So it was kind of bad feelings, but it is what it is.”

As of Friday, everything was full-go and the captain returned to the lineup for the Capitals’ game against the Montreal Canadiens.

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

That’s great news for the Capitals, who went into Friday night having lost six of their past seven and seven of their past 10. They have only two goals from forwards not named Ovechkin or Alexander Semin in the past seven games.

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

Asked if Ovechkin would be playing if Washington was leading the Southeast Division by 10 games instead of two points out of a playoff spot, he and Hunter both said yes.

That’s not a surprising answer for the ultra-competitive Ovechkin.

“Even if you have something big, you still want to be in and help the team. 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,” he said. “Right now, I’m ready to go.”

• Stephen Whyno can be reached at swhyno@washingtontimes.com.

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