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Alex Ovechkin practiced on Friday for the first time since he sustained a lower-body injury against the New York Islanders on April 22.
The forward, who has missed the past three games, was on the ice for about 30 minutes for the optional practice before leaving.
Ovechkin has yet to be cleared to play, so it’s unknown if he’ll be in the lineup against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, NBCSWA, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV).
“It’s great that he’s out on the ice,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “I always say that’s kind of the first sign or the first step to a way back to the lineup at some point. But at this point, he’s day to day.”
Ovechkin hasn’t missed four straight games because of an injury since he sat out an NHL career-high six games with a shoulder injury Nov. 4-14, 2009. He leads Washington with 24 goals in 43 games and has scored 730 goals in 16 NHL seasons, one from tying Marcel Dionne for fifth in NHL history.
Defenseman John Carlson also participated in the optional practice after missing a 5-4 overtime loss to Pittsburgh on Thursday because of a lower-body injury. Carlson remained on the ice longer than Ovechkin, but it’s unclear if he will return.
“It’s the first step, so I don’t have an answer for that,” Laviolette said. “We’ll move into tomorrow, but right now he’s still listed as day to day.”
The Capitals (32-13-5), who have clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, are tied for first in the MassMutual East Division with the Penguins. –Tom Gulitti
New York Rangers
Brett Howden is out for the season because of a fractured foot.
The forward was injured in a 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday. He scored seven points (one goal, six assists) in 42 games this season.
Forward Chris Kreider (lower body) and defenseman Ryan Lindgren (upper body) did not practice Friday. Kreider did not play on Thursday.
“As of right now, it doesn’t look like long term,” coach David Quinn said Friday. “It’s day to day, so we hope that’s the case.”
Kreider has scored 30 points (20 goals, 10 assists) in 50 games this season; Lindgren has scored 16 points (one goal, 15 assists) in 51 games.
Quinn also said defenseman Jacob Trouba could play when the Rangers visit the Islanders on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; MSG+2, MSG, NHL.TV).
The defenseman has missed five games with an upper-body injury and has scored 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) in 38 games.
The Rangers (26-19-6) are fifth in the MassMutual East Division, six points behind the fourth-place Boston Bruins for the final Stanley Cup Playoff berth. The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins have qualified from the division. — Tracey Myers