ARLINGTON, V.A. — The Washington Capitals will look to get back on the right track against Montreal, but they will be without their captain as Alex Ovechkin will stay behind in D.C. due to stricter COVID-19 protocols in Canada.
So, the team recalled Brett Leason from Hershey to help fill the void for the Capitals captain, who will technically go back on protocol. Ovechkin tested positive for COVID-19 last Wednesday, leading him to miss Washington’s tilt with Edmonton and the 2022 NHL All-Star Weekend. He was asymptomatic and tested negative on Tuesday, allowing him to return for Tuesday’s loss to Columbus.
In 33 games this season, Leason has racked up three goals and six points. He skated with the team on Wednesday after having gone back down to Hershey on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Evgeny Kuznetsov took a maintenance day and did not skate at Wednesday’s practice. Vitek Vanecek, who has been out with an upper-body injury, also missed the skate. Pheonix Copley and Ilya Samsonov were the two Capitals goalies on the ice.
READ MORE ON WHN: Mantha Takes Step Forward In Recovery Process
Washington also practiced the power play and penalty kill, two areas that factored greatly into a glaring 5-4 defeat to the Blue Jackets on Tuesday.
The team also got a positive sign on Wednesday, as Anthony Mantha hit the ice for the first time since November to get in some individual work. It was the first time the 26-year-old has skated since November. He suffered a shoulder injury on Nov. 4 against the Florida Panthers that ultimately required surgery and had been off the ice.
However, head coach Peter Laviolette said that Mantha is making progress. He has been around MedStar Capitals Iceplex. If he continues trending in the right direction, the team could see him back before the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Washington is looking to find its footing again amid inconsistencies over a recent stretch. The team will get a big chance to rebound on Thursday against the Canadiens, who have been struggling.