ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin played through hamstring and knee injuries that hampered him in the playoffs.
Ovechkin said he felt something in his hamstring late in Game 3 of the second-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins and needed injections to numb the pain the rest of the way. A hit by Toronto’s Nazem Kadri in Game 5 of the first round caused the left knee injury that Ovechkin downplayed.
”You don’t want to play with any sort of injury,” Ovechkin said at Capitals exit day Friday. ”Of course, you don’t feel 100 percent, you don’t (have) strength in your leg, but you play through that. Some players play with broken hand, broken leg because it’s the playoffs. You have to sacrifice your body to get success and get the result.”
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Washington teammate Karl Alzner played with a broken bone in his hand and Marcus Johansson with a broken finger. Several other players talked about not being 100 percent during the playoff run.
Ovechkin said there were no tears in his hamstring or knee and that he did not need surgery. The injury, specifically to his hamstring, was bad enough to keep him from playing for Russia at the world championships, which he has done 12 times.
”I talked to (Russia’s coach) and just said I’m not able to help the team,” Ovechkin said. ”If I can’t, I can’t. I wish him luck and I’m going to cheer for them. It’s time to recover. It’s time to take a deep breath and take some time off and get back to work.”
Fellow Russian Capitals players Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov are heading to Cologne, Germany, to play at the world championships.
The 31-year-old captain had eight points in 13 playoff games as Washington was eliminated before the conference finals for the ninth time in as many chances. Ovechkin was moved to the third line midway through the Penguins series but said that had nothing to do with the injuries.
Ovechkin doesn’t know how long his recovery will take but should be back for the start of next season.”
I still have three months until training camp,” he said. ”Come back here healthy and strong and back on track.”
Follow Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SWhyno