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At the Rink blog

Capitals' Ovechkin won't play vs. Devils

Friday, 01.24.2014 / 1:04 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer / 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

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2013-2014 At the Rink Blog
Capitals' Ovechkin won't play vs. Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- Washington Capitals right wing Alex Ovechkin was unable to finish the team's morning skate at Prudential Center on Friday and will miss a second consecutive game against the New Jersey Devils.

Ovechkin missed his third game of the season on Tuesday with an undisclosed lower-body injury in a 2-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators at Verizon Center in Washington. He also missed two games in November while dealing with a shoulder injury.

"He went out onto the ice, [skated two laps] and then went off," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "I still haven't found out why he went out so fast. I don't know if it was because it was more serious than he thought or not healing. I was hoping he might be able to go [Saturday against Montreal Canadiens], but I don't know."

The line combinations at practice included Nicklas Backstrom centering Marcus Johansson and Troy Brouwer; Mikhail Grabovski centering Martin Erat and Eric Fehr; Brooks Laich centering Jason Chimera and Joel Ward; and Jay Beagle centering Aaron Volpatti and Tom Wilson.

Ovechkin, who leads the NHL with 35 goals, apparently sustained his most recent injury on Jan. 19 in a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers. The Capitals are 13-9-2 all-time with Ovechkin out of the lineup.

"We don't play different because Alex is in our lineup; he's a tremendous player and great leader for our team, but he's missed games in the past and we've stuck to the team game and actually have a pretty good record," Laich told NHL.com. "It's the same if I'm out of the lineup or someone else, we just keep marching forward. It gives someone else a chance to play more minutes and make a difference."

The Capitals, winless in six games (0-4-2), kick off a stretch of five road games that concludes Jan. 31 against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. They've been outscored 19-7 during the six-game slide.

"We're playing the same systems as when we were winning earlier," Laich said. "We just aren't playing well enough. As individuals, we need to be better and that will make our team better. If you can find a good rhythm with your linemates, show good defensive zone play and not give up shots, build speed through the neutral zone.

"Sometimes over the course of a season, you're going to have to strip your game down and build it back up. That's where we're at right now."

Michal Neuvirth is expected to start. He is 4-1-3 with a 2.06 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in eight career games against the Devils. Oates said Braden Holtby would get the start against the Canadiens on Saturday at Bell Centre.

Here is the projected lineup for the Capitals against the Devils:

Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Troy Brouwer

Martin Erat - Mikhail Grabovski - Eric Fehr

Jason Chimera - Brooks Laich - Joel Ward

Aaron Volpatti - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Karl Alzner - John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov - Mike Green

John Erskine - Connor Carrick

Michal Neuvirth

Braden Holtby

Scratched: Nate Schmidt

Injured: Alex Ovechkin (lower body), Jack Hillen (fractured tibial plateau)

Quote of the Day

It's really exciting. I'm pretty sure that when I play my first game I'm going to be emotional. To be back on the ice playing a game, being in game situations, with all the routines and rituals I do before games and during the game, I feel like I'm going to be emotional. I'm going to be really happy.

— Canadiens forward Tim Bozon on playing for the first time since his life-threatening illness