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Capitals' Ovechkin game-time decision against Wild

by Adam Vingan

WILD (34-22-7) at CAPITALS (35-20-10)

TV: FS-N, FS-WI, CSN-DC

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is a game-time decision Thursday against the Minnesota Wild with a lower-body injury.

Coach Barry Trotz excused Ovechkin from Washington's morning skate, saying that his playing status will be determined before the game.

“We’ve got a couple guys who are sort of banged up right now a little bit, and we’ve got a couple guys that are sort of in that warm-up mode,” Trotz said. “We’ll see after warm-ups.”

Ovechkin leads the NHL with 43 goals, having scored 16 in 19 games since the All-Star break, and is tied with linemate Nicklas Backstrom for the League lead in points with 67.

The Capitals recalled forward Andre Burakovsky on an emergency basis as insurance. If Ovechkin cannot play, then Burakovsky will likely replace him on the Capitals first line with Backstrom and Marcus Johansson.

Washington is 13-10-2 during Ovechkin’s 10-year career when he is not in the lineup.

The Capitals open a season-long five-game homestand against the Wild, whose 16-3-2 record since the All-Star break is the best in the NHL. Minnesota has won four straight road games, its longest streak since March 2013.

Here are the projected lineups:

WILD

Sean BergenheimMikko KoivuChris Stewart

Zach PariseMikael GranlundJason Pominville

Nino NiederreiterCharlie CoyleThomas Vanek

Erik HaulaKyle BrodziakJustin Fontaine

Ryan SuterJonas Brodin

Nate ProsserMatt Dumba

Jordan LeopoldChristian Folin

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: Jordan Schroeder, Marco Scandella, Niklas Backstrom

Injured: Ryan Carter (upper body), Matt Cooke (sports hernia surgery), Jason Zucker (broken clavicle), Jared Spurgeon (facial injury), Keith Ballard (concussion/facial fractures)

CAPITALS

Alex Ovechkin/Andre BurakovskyNicklas BackstromMarcus Johansson

Curtis GlencrossJay BeagleTroy Brouwer

Jason ChimeraEric FehrJoel Ward

Brooks LaichEvgeny KuznetsovTom Wilson

Brooks OrpikJohn Carlson

Karl AlznerMatt Niskanen

Tim GleasonMike Green

Braden Holtby

Justin Peters

Scratched: Andre Burakovsky

Injured: Alex Ovechkin (lower body), Michael Latta (upper body), Dmitry Orlov (wrist), John Erskine (neck surgery)

Status report: Laich is expected to return to Washington’s lineup after being scratched Tuesday in a 5-3 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets. According to Laich, it was his first healthy scratch since 2006-07, his second full season with the Capitals. He has not scored since Jan. 7. “I love the game, love to play the game,” Laich said. “I have to show that I think again. I think I’ve turned it too much into a little bit of frustration and work rather than playing. I never want to go to work a day in my life. I always just want to play.”

Who’s hot: Dubnyk is 16-3-1 with a 1.65 goals-against average, .937 save percentage, and five shutouts since joining the Wild on Jan. 14 via trade from the Arizona Coyotes. … Ovechkin has scored the game-winning goal in each of Washington’s past two games, the first time he has done so in consecutive games in one season since Oct. 9-11, 2010, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

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