Alex Ovechkin skated briefly with the Capitals on Friday but a lower body injury is expected to keep him out of tonight’s game against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center in Newark.
Ovechkin suffered the injury, believed to be a groin strain, on Sunday night against the New York Rangers. He sat out Tuesday night’s 2-0 loss to the Ottawa, the Capitals sixth straight defeat. The Caps are 2-1 without Ovechkin in the lineup this season.
With or without Ovechkin, Capitals coach Adam Oates has decided to turn to goaltender Michal Neuvirth as his starter against the Devils. In nine games this season Neuvirth is 3-4-1 with a 2.87 goals-against average and .913 save percentage.
Neuvirth told CSNWashington.com on Thursday that he’s relieved to see the three goaltender rotation resolved. On Monday the Caps sent Philipp Grubauer back to the Hershey Bears after he had appeared in 16 of 22 games.
“I talked to Holts [Braden Holtby] about it,” Neuvirth said. “Now we just need to be good in games and give us a chance to win every night.
“We’ll see what’s going to happen. You’ve got to be ready. I was pretty happy with the practice I had [Thursday] and whenever I play I will give my best.”
Neuvirth is expected to face Devils goalie Cory Schneider [8-9-7, 1.88, .926], who will be making his first career start against Washington. Schneider is 3-0-2 in his last five starts.
Without Ovechkin, the Capitals are expected to go with this lineup against the Devils, who had lost three of four before blowing out the St. Louis Blues 7-1 at home on Tuesday night::
Marcus Johansson – Nicklas Backstrom – Troy Brouwer
Marty Erat – Mikhail Grabovski – Eric Fehr
Jason Chimera – Brooks Laich – Joel Ward
Aaron Volpatti – Jay Beagle – Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner- John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov – Mike Green
John Erskine – Connor Carrick
Extra: Nate Schmidt
Michal Neuvirth [starter] – Braden Holtby