ARLINGTON, Va. - Alex Ovechkin will miss the Washington Capitals' game at the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, but he is expected to return to the team at the start of next week.
The NHL's reigning MVP and its leading scorer last season is visiting his ailing grandfather in Russia. Ovechkin also sat out Tuesday's game, ending his consecutive games streak at 203.
"I don't anticipate seeing him until Monday's practice," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said Friday. "That's what I'm looking at right now, unless something happens that we're unaware of."
Washington will get one player back against Buffalo, though - defenceman Tom Poti, who is returning from a groin injury that forced him to miss five games over the past two weeks.
With Poti now available, defenceman Tyler Sloan was sent back down to the minors after he finally got a chance to play in the NHL.
Sloan, from Calgary, returns to AHL club Hershey after four games with the Capitals, including one goal.
"You're not asking him to be Bobby Orr, but he did a pretty solid job," Boudreau said. "He can skate, he's big, he's physical. He made a couple mistakes, but I mean I've got to believe there's a lot of nerves coming up for your first time, and the more comfortable he got, I thought, the better he played."
After more than 400 games in the minor leagues, the 27-year-old Sloan made his NHL debut Oct. 21 against the Calgary Flames.
During his third shift, he levelled Daymond Langkow with a clean bodycheck. Sloan was immediately tackled and pummelled by Calgary's Rene Bourque, who was given 19 minutes in penalties.
Then, against the Dallas Stars last Saturday, Sloan scored his first NHL goal.
Poti returned to practice Thursday, and was back on the ice Friday, working alongside defenceman Jeff Schultz.
"Ready to go," Poti said. "It felt good enough to go tomorrow."
His first game back will come against Buffalo's Thomas Vanek, who leads the NHL with nine goals, one more than Washington's Alexander Semin.
Semin has been Washington's top threat while Ovechkin is off to a slow start, with only two goals. After Buffalo, Washington's next game is Tuesday at the Ottawa Senators.
Notes: Boudreau signed a book deal, and his as-yet-untitled autobiography is due to come out in October 2009. "I thought it would be, 'Well, who wants to hear about me?' And some people have read it and said they're pretty entertained by it," Boudreau said. "It's coming out in time for the next hockey season, and so we're hoping to add at least one more chapter."