The Washington Capitals are starving for offense and desperate for a victory after combining for eight goals amid their current five-game losing streak.
Having leading goal scorer Alex Ovechkin back in the lineup would definitely help their cause.
Ovechkin could return when the Capitals host the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night in Washington, D.C. He has missed the past four games following the death of his father in Russia.
“He give me everything, all his health, all his time,” Ovechkin said of his father, Mikhail, after practice Wednesday. “He traveled with me all over the world, and been at every practice when he have a chance.”
Ovechkin came straight from the airport and was the first player on the ice at Wednesday’s optional practice.
Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said he still needed to have a conversation with Ovechkin to discuss his availability against the Ducks.
The Capitals are two points out of the second wild card in the Eastern Conference, with two teams between them and the final playoff spot.
The visiting Detroit Red Wings beat Washington 3-1 on Tuesday, pulling even with the Capitals in points but ahead of them in the standings because of their two games in hand. The Pittsburgh Penguins also sit between the Capitals and the final wild-card spot.
“We’ve got to find a way here, and there’s a good chunk of games left,” said Washington winger Tom Wilson, who has scored in back-to-back games since returning from a seven-game absence because of a lower-body injury. “We’ve got to turn this around right now, start putting together some wins.”
Washington’s problem has been a lack of scoring. The Capitals have been limited to one goal or fewer in 29 of their past 31 periods.
“We’ve still got to find a way to put the puck in the net,” Laviolette said. “It’s not falling for us right now.”
The return of Ovechkin should help.
The 37-year-old future Hall of Famer has 32 goals and 54 points on the season. He’s 82 goals from breaking Wayne Gretzky’s NHL career record.
Washington could be without one of its more physical players as forward Anthony Mantha sustained an upper-body injury against the Red Wings and left in the second period. Mantha did not practice on Wednesday.
The Ducks are mired in a six-game losing streak in which they’ve been outscored 36-15.
Anaheim has been without its lone All-Star representative, right wing Troy Terry, for the past seven games because of an upper-body injury. In a 6-1 loss at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, forward Adam Henrique left with a lower-body injury and did not return.
Henrique is tied for the team lead with 19 goals.
The Ducks have shown they can play well in spurts on this trip.
They took an early 2-0 lead against the Florida Panthers in the opener of the four-game trip on Monday, but ultimately lost 4-3 in overtime, despite getting 51 saves from goalie John Gibson.
Anaheim played a scoreless first period against the Lightning on Tuesday, but the Ducks were outshot 22-1 in the second period and gave up four goals in a 6:15 span before eventually losing 6-1.
“Unfortunately, the way our team is this year, we have to almost play a perfect game to beat a team like this,” Ducks center Ryan Strome said.
–Field Level Media