Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin participated fully in practice on Friday and is ready to go for Saturday’s game against the Florida Panthers. The left winger had a cortisone shot on Tuesday night after the game against Tampa Bay and was allowed to do non-contact drills only at yesterday’s practice. Friday Ovechkin shed the gold non-contact jersey. He will likely start tomorrow’s game against Florida – but on a different line and at a different position. Ovechkin will be the right winger with Brooks Laich and Marcus Johansson. The other line would be Nicklas Backstrom centering Alex Semin and Mike Knuble.
“[Ovechkin] and Nicky are both in slumps so I’m trying to get them away from each other,” said Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. “And [Johansson] is playing pretty well. So maybe that will work.”
Ovechkin has just four goals in his last 23 games. Boudreau tried this earlier in the season in a game against New Jersey – Washington was down big in the third period - and it worked well enough that he started at right wing in Carolina and popped three assists and again two days later against Tampa Bay. But Boudreau also cautioned the move could last one all of one shift on Saturday night.
Caps forward Mathieu Perreault practiced on Friday, but said he doesn’t expect to play against Florida. Still having some trouble breathing through his nose after surgery on Wednesday to fix it. A Tim Gleason hit in Carolina on Dec. 26 caused a break. The sight of him sliding the beak while talking with reporters on Friday was a bit stomach turning.
Perreault admitted that breathing has been an issue the last two games – the Winter Classic against Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay on Tuesday – and sleeping was difficult post-surgery on Wednesday. He didn’t record a point in either game and said there were times he thought he played too hesitant, not wanting to get driven into the boards face-first or risk a collision.
If Perreault is held out then - barring a recall from Hershey - we could see forward D.J. King in a game for the first time since Dec. 6 against Toronto. He's been on injured reserve. King skated with Matt Hendricks and David Steckel at practice on Friday. Jay Beagle was the third-line center. No guarantees those combinations stay the same, of course, but there is an open roster spot to add King from IR. He has played just eight games this season.
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