Ovechkin could return to play for Russia

Ovechkin could return to play for Russia
May 19, 2014, 7:45 am
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(Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports)

Capitals Nation can take a collective exhale this morning. Alex Ovechkin’s right knee injury is not as serious as it may have looked on Sunday.

Sent tumbling to the ice on a hip check by German forward Marcus Kink in the third period of Russia’s 3-0 victory in the IIHF World Championships, Ovechkin was seen walking without crutches and with a limp at a Belarus hotel shortly after midnight on Sunday night.

Ovechkin also posted a thumbs up photo on Instagram with the message: "Everything's OK. Congrats on the win, everyone!!)).

On Monday morning the Russian Hockey Federation announced that Ovechkin “sustained a serious lower body injury” and will miss Russia’s final group game against Belarus on Tuesday but will remain with the team in Minsk, Belarus.

captain Alex Ovechkin did not suffer any torn ligaments in his right knee after sustaining an injury Sunday while playing for Russia at the 2014 IIHF World Championship.

Andrei Safronov, Russia's general manager, told reporters in Belarus on Monday that an MRI exam showed that Ovechkin did not suffer any torn ligaments in his right knee as a result of the hit.

"He's OK at the moment," Safronov said. "There's some pain, but he's working with the doctors.

"[Ovechkin] will definitely stay with the team," Safronov said. "Even if he couldn't play he'd still be here. He's not just a part of this team, he's a leader."

According to a Capitals spokesperson, the club’s medical staff has conferred with Team Russia personnel.

Team Russia is a perfect 6-0 in the tournament and there is still a chance the Capitals’ 28-year-old captain will return to the lineup before the tournament concludes on May 25.

Ovechkin and the Russians are looking to avenge their fifth-place finish in the Sochi Olympics.

RELATED: [Ovechkin injury in Minsk is Caps' worst fear (VIDEO)]

Ovechkin is tied for third in the tournament with three goals and six assists for nine points. He is also a plus-5 for the Russians, who have outscored their opponents 29-6. Following Tuesday’s game against Belarus, the quarterfinals will begin on Thursday, followed by semifinal action on Saturday and the final on Sunday.

Ovechkin led the NHL with 51 goals this season and was tied with Nicklas Backstrom for the team lead with 79 points. But he also finished with a career-worst minus-35 rating and failed to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

Ovechkin has never missed more than six consecutive games during his eight-year NHL career and has never been sidelined for more than three games for a lower body injury. He missed six games in the 2009-10 season with a shoulder injury.