- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 5, 2015

Alex Ovechkin did not play in the Washington Capitals’ 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday because of an unspecified lower-body injury.

Ovechkin, who has not missed a game this season, was originally going to be evaluated before the team’s warm-ups, but coach Barry Trotz said Ovechkin determined at some point during the afternoon that doing even that would be impossible.

“He was in contact with our trainer, and he basically let us know before the warm-up that he really didn’t think he could play,” Trotz said. “Therefore, he didn’t even take warm-up.”

Ovechkin entered the game with a league-leading 43 goals, and his 67 points tied him with center Nicklas Backstrom for league lead in that category as well. He had played in 96 consecutive games, last missing one on Jan. 24, 2014 after he had also sustained an unspecified lower-body injury.

“He takes away the eyes of their top players,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “He makes them think twice. He stretches the zone. He comes in hard. He’s good one-on-one. I think he really makes defensemen and their forwards play tougher minutes.

“When you don’t have him out there, it doesn’t give them a break — we’ve still got good players — but they get to play a different game. He’s one of the most important players in the league, that’s for sure, and he makes it tough on their opponent.”

SEE ALSO: Late turnover by Mike Green all Wild needed to defeat Capitals

Without Ovechkin, the Capitals went with a top line of Andre Burakovsky, Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson — a unit that took, combined, four of the Capitals‘ 25 shots on goal and nine of their 46 shots overall.

Marcus Johansson twice hit a post in the third period, including an attempt 1:54 in from the top of the left circle that split Minnesota defensemen Nate Prosser and Ryan Suter but clanged off the metal on the far side.

Burakovsky, an emergency recall from Hershey on Thursday, will likely stick around until at least Saturday, Trotz said. The Capitals will then have a better idea if Ovechkin will be able to play that night against the Buffalo Sabres.

“Any time you’re missing one of the best players in the world, it’s gonna be a little bit of an impact on your team,” said left wing Curtis Glencross, who scored a power play goal 2:51 into the game. “Hopefully, he’ll get back here next game. Any time you’re missing a guy like that in the lineup, it’s tough.”

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