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Alex Ovechkin of Capitals played through knee, hamstring injuries

Washington captain said surgery won't be required

by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / NHL.com Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin confirmed Friday he was playing through knee and hamstring injuries during the Stanley Cup Playoffs but said he will not need surgery during the offseason.

Ovechkin injured his left knee on a low hip check from Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri in the first period of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round. Ovechkin was helped off the ice but returned to play at the start of the second period and did not miss any games.

"It was nothing big injured," Ovechkin said of his knee.

The more significant injury was to his hamstring. Ovechkin said that injury occurred near the end of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who eliminated Washington in Game 7 on Wednesday.

"It's the first time I had this injury," he said. "I just fell into the boards and it [did] not feel good."

Ovechkin had one point, a goal in Game 5, during the final four games of the series against the Penguins. He finished the playoffs with eight points (five goals, three assists) in 13 games.

Ovechkin said he received pain-numbing injections "a couple times" to help him play.

"Sometimes I feel I need it. Sometimes I feel I can play without it," the 31-year-old said. "But we want to get result, so that's why I was playing through it."

Ovechkin said his injuries were not the reason coach Barry Trotz dropped him to the third line for the last three games of the second round. Ovechkin was scheduled to see a doctor later Friday but said there were no tears in his knee or hamstring.

Trotz did not want to speculate about how much Ovechkin's injuries affected his play.

"Everybody's hurt and everybody tries to play through it as best they can," Trotz said. "How much? That's something only Alex can answer. There's a lot of players that I can [talk about]. We keep all our injuries to themselves. I'm not going to talk about injuries, but when you play in the playoffs and you're getting banged around and everything's ramped, we say in the playoffs, 'You're either hurt or you're injured. And if you're injured you're not playing, but you're probably playing hurt.' And that goes for everybody."

Ovechkin declined an invitation to play for Russia at the 2017 IIHF World Championship because of his injuries. He said he will travel to Miami for a few days with his parents and wife, Nastya, and then return to the Washington area instead of immediately heading home to Russia for the summer.

"It's time to recover," Ovechkin said. "It's time to take a deep breath and take some time off and get back to work."

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