The Washington Capitals haven't seen Verizon Center in over two weeks. They also haven't seen Alex Ovechkin in uniform in a week. It looks likely that both things will change Tuesday when the Caps return home to face the Carolina Hurricanes.
Ovechkin hasn't played since March 18, a 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils. Last Monday, Washington's coaching staff decided to give Ovechkin time to rest nagging injuries. He's missed the last three games, but participated in a full practice for the first time in a week and believes he is ready to return against Carolina. Ovechkin leads the Caps with eight total points against the Hurricanes this season (two goals, six assists).
Ovechkin's return couldn't come at a better time for the Capitals as they look to add a fourth consecutive Southeast Division Championship to the fourth consecutive playoff berth they earned in last Tuesday's 5-4 shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers. The Caps are seven points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the division, but the Lightning have one game in hand. Washington will face a Hurricanes team that they are undefeated against this season, sporting a 5-0-0 record with a 14-7 advantage in total goals. Carolina will be desperate; they will enter Tuesday's game in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, five points behind eighth place Buffalo.