Training Camp Buzz: Ovechkin makes preseason debut for Capitals

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Welcome to the 2021-22 NHL training camp buzz. With training camps open for all 32 teams, NHL.com has you covered with all the latest news.

 

Washington Capitals

Alex Ovechkin played for the first time this preseason when the Capitals host the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday (NHLN, NBCSWA, MSG+). 

The left wing, who is sixth in NHL history with 730 goals, was slated to play on a line with center Evgeny Kuznetsov and Anthony Mantha. 

“The quicker we’re going to find the chemistry, the quicker we’re going to understand,” Kuznetsov said. “Sometimes when you come back after the summer you want to do too much on the ice, but the legs are not there, the head is not there. The quicker we are going to be in game shape, the better for us.”

Ovechkin (No. 1 in 2004), Kuznetsov (No. 26 in 2010) and Mantha (No. 20 in 2013) are among nine first-round picks in the NHL Draft who will play for the Capitals on Wednesday, including forwards T.J. Oshie (No. 24 in 2005), Connor McMichael (No. 25 in 2019) and Hendrix Lapierre (No. 22 in 2020), defensemen John Carlson (No. 27 in 2008) and Alexander Alexeyev (No. 31 in 2018) and goalie Ilya Samsonov (No. 22 in 2015). McMichael and Lapierre also played in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Boston Bruins in Washington’s preseason opener Sunday.

New Jersey will dress seven first-round picks, forwards Jack Hughes (No. 1 in 2019), Nico Hischier (No. 1 in 2017), Alexander Holtz (No. 7 in 2020), Dawson Mercer (No. 18 in 2020), Nolan Foote (No. 27 in 2019) and Mark Jankowski (No. 21 in 2012) and goalie Jonathan Bernier (No. 11 in 2006). — Tom Gulitti

 

Pittsburgh Penguins

Evan Rodrigues could start the regular season at second-line center in place of Evgeni Malkin. 

The 28-year-old forward skated in Malkin’s normal spot Wednesday, replacing Radim Zohorna, with left wing Jason Zucker and right wing Kasperi Kapanen. Malkin is expected to miss at least the first two months of the season after having knee surgery June 4. 

The Penguins are also without first-line center Sidney Crosby, who could be sidelined at least the first week after he had wrist surgery Sept. 8. Crosby has skated on his own before practices to start training camp. 

Jeff Carter was the center on the first line Wednesday with Crosby’s usual linemates, left wing Jake Guentzel and right wing Bryan Rust. When Crosby returns, Carter would likely move to the second line.

Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said Zohorna missed practice Wednesday with an undisclosed illness that is not COVID-19. Zohorna was used at second-line center through the first three days of camp.— Wes Crosby

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