- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Alex Ovechkin is OK. So is Marcus Johansson. The forwards collided during the Washington Capitals’ scrimmage Tuesday against the Reading Royals of the ECHL, but both returned to action and didn’t appear to suffer any injuries.

Ovechkin needed to be attended to by trainer Greg Smith in the locker room for a cut on his chin, but the captain laughed about the incident afterward.

“My mouth was bleeding so I had to go to Smitty’s room and check it out if I lose more tooth or not,” Ovechkin said. “I lose my breathing because I didn’t see him and I hit helmet with my mouth. But then I can’t breathe, I start screaming. But after that couple seconds, I feel pretty good.”

It was a scary scene as Ovechkin and Johansson tried crossing in the neutral zone and didn’t see each other before colliding. They were down on the ice for about a minute.

“Everyone in the building went pretty quiet,” forward Tom Wilson said. “That was definitely scary for a second as they both went down. It was good to see them get up.”

Ovechkin is trying out right wing after a career on the left side. He conceded that played a role in the collision.

“I was on the right side and you know it’s kind of something new for me, crossing [at a] different angle,” Ovechkin said. “So I don’t know whose fault it is, but I don’t feel pretty good after that.”

After the immediate concern wore off and Ovechkin returned from the locker room, “It’s something to laugh about now,” Johansson said.

At the time, though, it was a big deal.

“I think that that woke everybody up,” coach Adam Oates said. “That, ‘Oh, yeah, I guess we got to pay attention.’”

Oates isn’t worried about this hiccup in Ovechkin’s adjustment to right wing.

“I just think that’ll evolve,” Oates said. “He’ll learn. He’s a smart guy. He’ll learn it very fast.”

Oates praises Wilson

Wilson was a late invitee to Caps training camp because at 18 years old and with plenty of established NHL forwards on hand, the first-round pick seemed to need something stunning to happen to make the team.

That still might be the case, but Oates again Tuesday talked glowingly of Wilson and his improvement from July’s development camp.

“He looked great out there, he skated great, he looked like one of the guys and sometimes I didn’t realize it was him,” Oates said.

In training camp, it’s hard for the 6-foot-3, 205-pound forward to be physically imposing.

“Part of his game is being physical and we asked the guys to tone that down, and he looked very sharp out there,” Oates said. “I was very impressed. Very different than rookie camp.”

Scrimmage stokes fire

No one was surprised when the Caps beat an ECHL team 8-0 in a scrimmage Tuesday, but the point of the game wasn’t the result as much as getting some competition before the season starts Saturday night at the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“You can try to replicate that in practice, but until you get into a game and you see what your linemates and teammates do under pressure and in a game situation — obviously that’s beneficial,” forward Joey Crabb said. “It was nice to get out there with some shifts with some guys that we might be playing with.”

Players don’t have the aid of even one exhibition this week. That’s why many NHL teams planned a scrimmage against a minor league affiliate.

“It was good to get out there and just be able to run through our systems, see how they work against an opponent and also take 45-second shifts,” said forward Jay Beagle, who scored twice. “The guys that have been playing have, but the guys who haven’t been playing are used to being out there practicing for four months. It’s definitely weird to have that shift change.”

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

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