Tuesday's NHL: Ovechkin injury clouds Capitals outlook, McDavid outduels Crosby
Washington — Alex Ovechkin did not skate with his Washington Capitals teammates Tuesday morning and his status moving forward is unclear with the start of the playoffs less than a week away.
Ovechkin was listed as day to day with an upper-body injury, and coach Peter Laviolette called his captain a game-time decision to face the New York Islanders in the third to last game of the regular season. But the team is being extra cautious with the 36-year-old star, and Laviolette made that clear when asked if he was optimistic about Ovechkin being ready for the start of the first round.
“I want to say I hope so, but I don’t know,” Laviolette said after Washington’s morning skate. “It depends on how things progress with him, so it’s day to day right now.”
Ovechkin tripped over Toronto goaltender Erik Kallgren’s stick and slammed into the boards left shoulder first early in the third period Sunday night in a shootout loss to the Maple Leafs.. He lay on the ice in pain, skated off and did not return.
The Russian winger has only missed 24 games because of injury during his 17-year NHL career. He has never missed a playoff game.
“He’s always around, and he’s always playing,” longtime teammate Nicklas Backstrom said. “His style of play, you’re going to get injured. But I just think mentally he’s so strong. He plays through everything. It’s just the way he is as a guy. He doesn’t miss games. And it doesn’t matter how hurt he is. He’s one of those guys you can always count on.”
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Ovechkin earlier this season passed Jaromir Jagr for third on the career goals list and now trails only Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howie. He has 50 this season — the ninth time he has done that, tying Gretzky and Mike Bossy for the NHL record.
Durability has helped Ovechkin play 1,274 regular-season and 141 playoff games since making his debut in 2005.
“Sometimes there’s got to be a little bit of luck to it, but he’s a really strong guy,” Laviolette said. “He hates not playing the game. He hates being out so he’s going to want to be back as soon as possible and we’re going to make sure that he’s in a good spot to do that.”
With Ovechkin expected to be out, Connor McMichael steps into the top line left wing spot alongside Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson. He has not played since April 10.
“It’s a huge opportunity for me to prove myself going into the playoffs and kind of prove to the coaches that when guys do get hurt that I am ready to fill that void,” McMichael said. “Ovi, he will be OK. He is a warrior, and he’s been out before and he seems to always come back so we are looking forward to having him back — whenever that is.”
► STARS 3, GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2, SO: Miro Heiskanen made the only shot in a seven-round shootout and the Dallas Stars moved closer to clinching a playoff spot with a 3-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights.
Jason Robertson reached the 40-goal mark by scoring twice for the Stars. Dallas and Nashville are tied atop the Western Conference wild-card standings with 95 points with two games left. The top two teams advance. Vegas has 91 points, but must win its last two games and get some help to make the playoffs again.
► BRUINS 4, PANTHERS 2: Jake DeBrusk snapped a 2-2 tie in the second period, Linus Ullmark made 19 saves and Boston beat Florida to clinch the first wild card in the Eastern Conference.
DeBrusk scored the eventual game-winner when he slammed home the rebound of a Brad Marchand shot at 4:59. Ullmark is 5-1 in his last eight appearances and has only allowed 10 goals in that span.
► OILERS 5, PENGUINS 1: Connor McDavid had a goal and three assists to outduel Sidney Crosby, and surging Edmonton rolled past Pittsburgh.
McDavid pushed his point total to an NHL-best 122 by finishing off his 22nd career four-point game with a pretty shot from a tight angle 9:13 into the third period. His 44th goal gave the Oilers a three-goal lead.
► HURRICANES 4, RANGERS 3: Vincent Trochek had a goal and an assist, rookie Pyotr Kochetkov stopped 31 shots and Carolina beat New York to clinch the Metropolitan Division title.
Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Jordan Martinook also scored for Carolina, and Brady Skjei had two assists.
The Hurricanes set franchise records with 53 wins and 114 points, topping marks set in 2005-06.
► FLAMES 5, PREDATORS 4, OT: Matthew Tkachuk forced overtime by scoring with a second left in the third and Elias Lindholm’s OT goal secured Calgary's win over Nashville.
Dillon Dube scored twice and Noah Hanifin also had a goal for Calgary, winners of three straight. Dan Vladar made 19 saves.
► ISLANDERS 4, CAPITALS 1: Playing without injured captain Alex Ovechkin, Washington missed an opportunity to move up in the standings with a loss to New York.
The Capitals blew a lead and gave up four unanswered goals to an opponent that has long been out of playoff contention. They allowed power-play goals to Ryan Pulock and Noah Dobson, goaltender Ilya Samsonov botched a puck-handling attempt behind the net to help Casey Cizikas score short-handed and Tom Wilson turned the puck over to Anders Lee for New York’s fourth goal of the game.
► COYOTES 5, WILD 3: Travis Boyd scored the go-ahead goal, which stood after a long review, and last-place Arizona beat Minnesota to slow the Wild's pursuit of home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The loss snapped a 10-game winning streak for the Wild, who are in a battle for home ice with the St. Louis Blues, their first-round opponent. The two entered Tuesday tied with 109 points, though the Wild have a game in hand.
► LIGHTNING 4, BLUE JACKETS 1: Steven Stamkos reached the 100-point mark for the first time in his NHL career by scoring two goals and assisting on two more, and Tampa Bay beat Columbus.
Stamkos has at least three points in each of his past five games and is the eighth NHL player to reach 100 points this season.
Nikita Kucherov had a goal and three assists and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 20 saves for Tampa Bay, which has won four straight.
► SENATORS 5, DEVILS 4: Drake Batherson scored in overtime to give Ottawa a win over New Jersey.
Batherson also scored in regulation, Tim Stutzle had a pair of goals and Thomas Chabot also scored for Ottawa in this matchup of teams near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Brady Tkachuk chipped in three assists, while Anton Forsberg made 37 saves.
Carey named PHF commissioner
Reagan Carey is bringing her Olympic gold medal-winning resume to lead the Premier Hockey Federation through a critical offseason of expansion and the looming threat of competing for talent with a second North American pro women’s hockey league.
The PHF announced Tuesday that the former head of USA Hockey’s women’s programs is its new commissioner heading into its eighth season. Carey replaces Tyler Tumminia, who stepped down in March after two seasons in which the former National Women’s Hockey League rebranded itself and revamped its ownership model.
Carey is well-versed in the challenges women’s hockey has faced in finding its footing in North America. Her eight-year stint at USA Hockey ended with the women’s national team winning gold at the 2018 Winter Games.
“My area of experience and developed expertise is really growing things and doing it quickly and taking things that might need some structure and organization and focus to really drive things forward and capture some wins,” Carey told The Associated Press.
“So I’m excited to know we’ve got a lot of things moving around here and a lot of opportunities to really continue the positive momentum the PHF put forward last season,” she added. “And that’s to demonstrate what we’re here to do, which is to be the best league we can be.”
Carey’s arrival comes with the six-team PHF preparing to add two expansion franchises, one in Montreal and another in a yet-to-be announced U.S. location. The league’s board of governors is also committed to increasing each team’s salary cap from $300,000 to $750,000 as part of a three-year, $25 million cash influx.
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The challenge involves the PHF’s ongoing rift with the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association, which has intensified talks with NHL teams and its corporate sponsors to launch its own league within the next year. The PWHPA, formed in 2019, is made up of American and Canadian national team members who have balked at playing for the PHF.
The two sides’ latest bid to join forces ended abruptly two weeks ago when the PWHPA’s board of governors voted to end discussions after holding just one meeting at the NHL’s request.
Carey was diplomatic regarding the PWHPA, saying she considers anyone seeking to advance the women’s game as being “a teammate” and that she will have “an open-door policy” of collaboration.
“Regardless of the entity you represent, I’m a big believer in one candle doesn’t lose its flame by lighting another,” Carey said.
“And I think that’s where we are with the situation that creating options for players is great for everyone. It only betters the sport,” she said. “I support all the people that are doing a lot of work to advance professional women’s ice hockey, including the players that are working with the PW.”
Carey was selected by a six-person search committee, which included Susie Piotrkowski, head of women’s team sports at Octagon sports agency, a PHF partner.
“Hiring the right fit for the long-term growth of the league was imperative,” Piotrkowski said in a news release. “Reagan Carey differentiated herself not only as a result of her hockey experience but through her deep understanding of the women’s sports landscape.”
During her tenure at USA Hockey, Carey oversaw a women’s program that won six world championships and four Under-18 women’s championships. She was also involved in negotiations to end the U.S. national team’s threat to boycott the 2017 world championship on home soil, which led to players getting better pay and more equitable treatment.
“I think, ultimately, it was a great pivotal moment for women’s hockey, and glad to be a part of that experience,” Carey said. “USA Hockey certainly had the opportunity to listen and create a better structure for women’s hockey, better resources. And ultimately those players that led that charge and everybody ended up the better for it.”
While at USA Hockey, Carey was keenly aware of the startup troubles the NWHL endured, including the league slashing player salaries by more than 50% during its second season.
“The PHF was imperfect, certainly. It had its misfires, and its obstacles, but at the same time, it really filled the need that was existing,” Carey said.
“But I also like to look at where we’re advancing and how far we’ve come,” she added. “We’re not going to get everything perfect moving forward either. I’ll be the first to recognize that. But I think it’s about how we continue to evolve and how we handle those situations and making sure players are very clear of what we’re able to deliver and that we deliver on that.”
Carey previously worked for the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers and NBA's Atlanta Hawks in sports development, performance and marketing roles. Upon leaving USA Hockey, she returned to her native Maine, where she was a member of the Maine Girls & Women in Sports Committee, while also spending time as a sports and business consultant.
Russia removed as host of 2023 worlds
Zurich — Russia was removed Tuesday as host of the 2023 world championship in men’s ice hockey that was to be played in Vladimir Putin’s home city St. Petersburg.
Citing “concern for the safety and well-being of all participating players, officials, media, and fans,” the International Ice Hockey Federation announced the decision after its ruling council met.
The latest blow to Russia in its favored winter sports follows one day after its signature annual international figure skating competition was pulled by the International Skating Union in the fallout from the country's war on Ukraine.
The IIHF said its officials “expressed significant concerns over the safe freedom of movement of players and officials to, from, and within Russia.”
Similar reasons were given last month for stripping the 2023 world juniors event from Russia. That championship was to be played in Omsk and Novosibirsk.
Russia had committed to build a new 23,000-seat arena for the men’s worlds that was scheduled for May 2023.
A new host will be picked during the men’s world championships which starts next month in Finland, the governing body said.