ARLINGTON, Va. — Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin played through hamstring and knee injuries that hampered him in the playoffs.
During the Capitals’ last media availability of the season Friday, Ovechkin said he felt something in his hamstring during 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, which Ovechkin downplayed.
Ovechkin said there were no tears in his hamstring or knee and that he did not need surgery.
“You don’t want to play with any sort of injury, obviously,” Ovechkin said. “Of course, you don’t feel 100 percent, you don’t [have] strength in your leg, but you play through that, you know? Some players play with broken hand, broken leg, and you know, because it’s the playoffs. You have to sacrifice your body to get success and get the result.”
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 said he will spend some time with his family in Miami and will then see doctors in Washington.
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.
The injuries, specifically to his hamstring, was bad enough to keep Ovechkin 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 added. “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.
“I still have three months until training camp. Come back here healthy and strong and back on track.”