Alex Ovechkin left after playing one shift in his return to the Washington Capitals on Monday after missing four games with a lower-body injury.
The forward played 39 seconds against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Ovechkin was injured against the New York Islanders on April 22. He appeared to be reinjured when he bumped with Rangers forward Artemi Panarin before skating back to the Capitals bench.
Washington said between periods that Ovechkin would not return because of a lower-body injury.
Capitals defenseman John Carlson returned to play after missing two games with a lower-body injury.
After Ovechkin and Carlson were full participants in the morning skate Monday, coach Peter Laviolette said they would not be rushed back with start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs nearing. Washington, which has clinched a playoff berth in the MassMutual East Division, will have four regular-season games remaining.
The start date for the playoffs has not been announced.
“The biggest thing is their health,” Laviolette said. “… You’ve seen them out there practicing, participating in full, and yet, when you get to a game, it’s a different strain. I feel like there’s more demands on your body, so at that point we’re making a decision as to what’s in the best interest of our team, what’s in the best interest of that player.
“So while we’d love to have them in the lineup, at this point with a handful of games to go (five) we want to make sure we’re doing the right thing.”
The Capitals began the game with 17 skaters (one short of the maximum), including 11 forwards. Forward T.J Oshie (personal reasons) and defenseman Justin Schultz (lower body) were unavailable, and forward Evgeny Kuznetsov and goalie Ilya Samsonov were scratched for team disciplinary reasons.
Ovechkin leads Washington with 24 goals in 43 games this season and at 730 NHL goals is one from tying Marcel Dionne for fifth in history.
The Capitals captain also missed four games while in NHL COVID-19 protocol Jan. 20-29. Before this season, Ovechkin sat out more than four games in a season once in his career. In 2009-10, he missed six games with a shoulder injury and was suspended for four games.