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Ovi suspended 2 games; Day-to-day with sore knee

by Dan Rosen
The NHL announced Tuesday that Washington Capitals' forward Alexander Ovechkin has been suspended two games without pay as the result of a knee-on-knee collision with Tim Gleason of the Carolina Hurricanes Monday night in a 3-2 Washington victory.

"I regret that this has happened," Ovechkin said in a statement released by the Capitals Public Relations department. "I'm glad that Tim wasn't injured because I never ever want to see anyone get hurt. I am disappointed to miss these games and I can't wait to get back on the ice next week to help my team."

Ovechkin, who was issued a five-minute major for kneeing and a game misconduct by the officials on the ice, will miss Thursday's game at home against Florida and Saturday's game at Philadelphia. He's eligible to return Dec. 7 at Tampa Bay. It's the first time he's been suspended in his career.

In a press release announcing the suspension, the League explained that Ovechkin "was involved in an incident where he extended his knee while delivering a hit" at the 12:05 mark of the first period.

Ovechkin, who leads the Capitals with 18 goals and 30 points, was also issued a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct Nov. 25 against Buffalo.

Earlier Tuesday, Ovechkin expressed how thankful and lucky he is that his right knee isn't as seriously injured as it appeared when he lay prone on the ice in Carolina Monday night after colliding with Gleason.

"It's not a bad injury," Ovechkin, who may practice Wednesday, told reporters at the practice facility. "I thought it was going to be worse but thank God I can walk and I can skate. Of course it's a little bit sore, but it's not that serious."

Ovechkin, who is being listed as day to day with a sore knee, was writhing in pain after collision and several minutes later had to be helped off and into the dressing room. He couldn't put any weight on his right leg.

But he skated for roughly five minutes Tuesday morning at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va. before his teammates came on the ice for practice. He was not in his hockey gear, but took a few strides and handled the puck a bit before going off.

According to reports, Ovechkin at first didn't use his right leg to push off, but by the end he was skating on both legs and even bent his right knee a few times before leaving.

Ovechkin missed six games earlier this season with an upper body strain. He missed only two games due to injury in his first four seasons.

Ovechkin said he was just trying to "make a normal hit" on Gleason, but the 'Canes defenseman turned quickly and he couldn't react in time.

It was his second game misconduct in the last three games. He was also called for a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct in last Wednesday's game against Buffalo.

Ovechkin was also involved in a controversial knee-on-knee collision with Pittsburgh defenseman Sergei Gonchar in the playoffs last season. He did not receive any supplemental discipline for that hit.

Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau expressed concern for the way Ovechkin plays when he addressed the media after Tuesday's practice.

"He's pretty reckless," Boudreau said. "Boy it's hard telling a guy that scores 60 goals a year to change the way he plays. At the same time, I don't want to see him getting hurt. Maybe he has to pick his spots a little bit better. It's something that will have to be addressed by us, I guess."

Boudreau hinted that he may soon have a talk with Ovechkin about the way he plays, but he's not totally convinced it will do any good. Boudreau, though, doesn't believe there is any malicious intent in the way Ovechkin plays, saying he just plays hard all the time.

"Not only as a coach, but as somebody who admires him, I just don't want to him put himself in harm's way," Boudreau said. "So we'll see. I don't think anything being said is going to change the way he plays. Who knows?"

"It's not a bad injury. I thought it was going to be worse but thank God I can walk and I can skate. Of course it's a little bit sore, but it's not that serious."
-- Alex Ovechkin

Ovechkin seems intent on keeping things status quo, saying he won't change a thing about his game or the way he plays.

"How can you tell me you just have to stop playing how you play?" Ovechkin said. "If I stop playing how I play I won't be that type of player. I play risky. I don't want to try dirty hits to make people get hurt, but sometimes people turn back or turn right away so I don't have time to realize to stop. It's pretty hard when you are skating fast and the guys just turn. What can you do?"

Almost lost, but certainly not forgotten from Monday's game was the injury suffered by Carolina defenseman Joe Corvo, who will miss the next 8-12 weeks while recovering from surgery to repair a laceration in his lower right leg.

Corvo was cut by the skate of Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner. According to the Hurricanes, he was transported to Rex Hospital, where Dr. Marty Isbell of the Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic performed surgery to repair the injuries.

"It's never good when you see a lot of blood on a guy's sock like that," Canes forward Matt Cullen told The Raleigh News & Observer after Monday's game.

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