Alex Ovechkin remains away from the Washington Capitals, but coach Peter Laviolette said Monday that he’s hopeful the Russian star will return to the team sometime this week.
The Capitals announced last Tuesday that Ovechkin was departing the team to attend to a family matter and the health of a loved one. A day later, the 37-year-old announced that his father, Mikhail, had died. The Capitals have lost four straight, three of which have occurred without their captain and leading scorer.
“I’m hoping this week, I haven’t communicated with him,” Laviolette told reporters. “But we’ll see. He’s dealing with his stuff at home and we’ll see how it goes.”
Washington — now outside the playoffs, narrowly trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders — hosts three games this week, starting with Tuesday’s showdown against the Detroit Red Wings. The Capitals play the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday and the New York Rangers on Saturday.
Winger Tom Wilson said Friday that Ovechkin texted teammates in a group chat to tell him that he loves and misses them. Teammates have voiced support for Ovechkin since the news of his father.
Though Ovechkin is still unavailable for the time being, the Capitals received some positive news at practice Monday as fourth-line center Nic Dowd practiced in full and appears close to returning to the lineup after missing the last 12 games with a lower-body injury.