Alex Ovechkin flew to the Czech Republic on Thursday afternoon to play for Russia in the final two games of the IIHF World Hockey Championships.
Ovechkin, who has played in the event in 10 of the last 11 seasons, missing it only in 2009, should join the national team for its semifinal game against the United States in Prague on Saturday. Russia will play either Canada or the Czech Republic in the championship on Sunday, should it advance; if not, the losing teams will play in a bronze-medal game also scheduled to take place that day. Russia won the tournament in 2008, 2012 and 2014, when he played in all nine games and had four goals and seven assists.
He left not even a full day after the Washington Capitals were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Rangers in Game 7 of the teams’ second-round series. Ovechkin scored the only goal for the Capitals in that game, putting them up in the first period on a one-timer from Marcus Johansson at 12:50 of the first period.
By leaving for Prague, Ovechkin will miss the team’s exit interviews, which were scheduled for Friday. The Capitals have supported his participation in the event since he first played for the team during the 2005-06 season.
With only four teams and two rounds remaining, no other Capitals players were expected to participate in the tournament. Russia defeated Sweden, 5-3, in a quarterfinal game on Thursday.