Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin will return to the lineup Thursday against the New York Islanders (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360), coach Barry Trotz said Wednesday.
Ovechkin last played Jan. 27 against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Capitals' final game before the All-Star break. After the game he announced he would have to miss the All-Star Game because of a lower-body injury; he had been voted in as Metropolitan Division captain.
By League rule, missing the All-Star Game meant Ovechkin had to sit out the Capitals' first game after the break, a 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.
Trotz said he hoped Ovechkin's time off would benefit the Capitals down the stretch.
"He's fresh," Trotz said in a video posted to Monumental Sports. "We'll see if he's totally healthy and we'll go from there. He'll play tomorrow. He's zooming around. He's missing everybody because he didn't play yesterday. When you don't play you don't feel a part of it; you feel like an outsider. He's in the in group again so he'll be good."
In 46 games this season Ovechkin is tied for second in the League with 28 goals. On Jan. 10 he became the 43rd player, and first Russian-born, to reach 500 goals. He did it in 801 games, fifth-fastest in League history.