Morning skate update: Ovechkin questionable against Senators

The Ottawa Senators may not have to contend with Alex Ovechkin, after all.

WASHINGTON – The Ottawa Senators may not have to contend with Alex Ovechkin, after all.

The Capitals announced Tuesday morning that Ovechkin, who leads the NHL with 35 goals, including 13 on the power play, is questionable for Tuesday night’s game against the Senators due to a lower body injury. Ovechkin apparently suffered the injury during Sunday’s 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers, in the middle of physical battles with Rangers defencemen Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonaugh.

“He knows his body, he has been hurt before,” Capitals coach Adam Oates told Washington reporters at the club’s practice facility Tuesday morning. “He knows whether he can go. We’ll decide tonight, he’s been getting treatments.”

It’s another potentially big blow to the suddenly-reeling Capitals, who go into Tuesday’s game on a five-game losing streak (0-3-2), having allowed 14 goals in their past three games. It should be noted, however, that the Capitals are 2-0 in games without Ovechkin this season.

The Senators, meanwhile, are hoping to erase the bad memories from their 4-1 defeat to the New York Rangers Saturday, when they resorted to their old habits of turning over the puck in dangerous areas.

Centre Stephane Da Costa, recalled from Binghamton of the AHL Monday to replace the injured Mark Stone, is expected to see his first NHL action since he was demoted to the minors after producing zero points in seven games, starting the season in Ottawa. Stone, who suffered a hand/wrist injury at practice Monday (coach Paul MacLean called it an “upper body” injury Tuesday), is expected to be out for one to two weeks.

Da Costa practiced on a line with Colin Greening and Chris Neil, while Jason Spezza was in the middle on another unit with Zack Smith and Erik Condra on his wings. The Milan Michalek-Mika Zibanejad-Cory Conacher and Clarke MacArthur-Kyle Turris-Bobby Ryan lines stayed intact.

There will also be a change on defence, with Marc Methot coming out in favour of Patrick Wiercioch. Methot left practice early Monday with what’s believed to be a minor hip injury and MacLean said the team didn’t want to take any chances in pushing Methot because the club has back to back games Thursday in Tampa Bay and Friday in Carolina.

Craig Anderson, who has a career record of 10-5-1 against the Capitals, will get the start in goal for Ottawa.

It’s believed that Braden Holtby will get the start in goal for the Capitals, who had been going with a complicated – and somewhat unruly – three goaltending system before rookie Philipp Grubauer was re-assigned to Hershey of the AHL Monday.

Michal Neuvirth, who asked for a trade in November, is expected to be Holtby’s back-up.

The Senators have won six consecutive games against Washington, with the last Capitals win coming on Dec. 3, 2011.

 

 

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