NEW YORK (AP) -Alex Ovechkin isn't saying for sure, but all signs suggest his injury absence is over and he'll play against the New York Rangers.
The two-time NHL MVP practiced with the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. Barring any setbacks, he is expected to be in the lineup for Tuesday night's game in New York.
Ovechkin has missed six games because of an upper body injury, believed to be a left shoulder strain. He entered Tuesday tied for the NHL lead with 14 goals despite playing only 14 games.
Ovechkin says he's excited to play again.
"It's going to be a pretty cool moment for me," he says.
Ovechkin got hurt against Columbus on Nov. 1. The Southeast Division-leading Capitals have won four of six games since he was hurt.
"Unless something negative happens this afternoon and I don't get the OK from (trainer Greg Smith) to play him, then I think he would be back," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said.
However, the Capitals will be without goalie Jose Theodore, who returned home because of a personal matter.
Semyon Varlamov, who played well against the Rangers in last season's playoffs when the Capitals erased a 3-1 series deficit in the first round to advance, will start in goal at New York on Tuesday night. Washington recalled Michal Neuvirth from Hershey of the AHL on Tuesday to be Varlamov's backup.
Varlamov is 6-1 in his past seven outings with a 2.09 goals against average.
One other injury question mark for Washington is the status of forward David Steckel, who was struck in the foot by a puck during practice on Monday. The Capitals recalled center Jay Beagle on Tuesday in case Steckel is unable to play.
Boudreau said Steckel's availability would be a game-time decision.
The Capitals are already without forwards Mike Knuble (broken finger), Boyd Gordon (back), and defenseman Milan Jurcina (lower body). Knuble has missed one game and is expected to be sidelined for 3 to 4 weeks. Jurcina will miss his third game.