Alex Ovechkin was injured in the Capitals’ shootout loss

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After crashing hard into the end boards, Alex Ovechkin curled up to the ice Sunday night at Capital One Arena.

There was the face of the Washington Capitals, known for its durability, that looked shaken after he stumbled over Toronto goalkeeper Erik Kallgren’s stick on an outburst and got into the boards early in the third period of the Capitals’ 4-3 defeat and shootout. Maple Leafs. And for the first time in a long time in the captain’s career – and with the start of the playoffs just a few days away – Ovechkin’s status was uncertain.

Ovechkin, who has 50 goals in 77 games, did not return and the team said he had an upper body injury. It was the first time this season that he left a match due to an injury. He has missed two games, both when he was in the NHL’s coronavirus protocols.

Coach Peter Laviolette offered no update on his condition after the match. The capitals canceled their scheduled Monday training, but will still take the annual team photo at the training facility; Ovechkin is expected to be there.

“I’ve never met anyone who’s tougher than that guy,” forward TJ Oshie said. “We all hope he’s fine. I just talked to him and I think he’s fine. It’s always scary to watch. [Ovechkin] go down and lie down on the ice. He’s a tough guy. But if there was anyone I could imagine would not miss more time than he needs, it would be [him]. “

After their captain fell, the Capitals offered a strong response by scoring two goals – by Lars Eller from a great feed from Martin Fehervary in 3:32 and Marcus Johansson on a backhander in 4:40 – to get a 3-1 lead . But Toronto had an answer to forcing overtime. Ilya Mikheyev found some open ice and scored at 12:36 before Jason Spezza struck the equalizer with 57.3 seconds left after hard pressure from the Maple Leafs with the extra striker.

After none of the teams could solve things in overtime, Alexander Kerfoot had the winner in a seven-round shootout. Evgeny Kuznetsov, who made a bold stick-spin in the middle of the experiment, scored the lone shootout goal for Washington.

While the first-round matchup is still unclear, the Caps are rising as the regular season ends

“Just an awful last eight minutes of the game or nine, 10 minutes of the game there,” Oshie said. “We’re getting pretty close here where it will not cut it down. I think we’m pretty bored of it. … We just did not expect to give a two-goal lead away to a team , who played last night, no matter how good they are. ”

Vitek Vanecek was excellent in overtime and finished with 27 saves. He came after a 19-save shutout in a 2-0 victory Friday in Arizona. Kallgren made 34 stops.

“[Vanecek] made some great saves in there, ”Laviolette said. “There are times when I think we can do things better in front of him, as in the second goal. I think we gave too much time, too much space. … We have to do a better job work with it, but I thought Vitek played well. ”

The Capitals, who came after a 3-1-1 road trip, dropped to 7-1-2 in their last 10 games. Washington (44-23-12) remains in the Eastern Conference’s second wildcard spot with 100 points.

Pittsburgh (45-24-11), which lost, 4-1, to Philadelphia on Sunday, is third in the Metropolitan Division with 101 points and has two games left. Washington has three left, starting Tuesday vs. New York Islanders. Boston (49-25-5) has the first wildcard spot in the conference after beating Montreal, 5-3, giving it 103 points with three games to play.

Toronto was without striker John Tavares and defender Timothy Liljegren, who took rest days after Saturday’s overtime loss in Florida. Striker Michael Bunting also did not play after leaving that match with a suspected lower body injury.

Washington had a solid start, with Vanecek coming up with an impressive save on Mikheyev. Shortly after, Oshie Capitals gave a 1-0 lead with a wrist from the left circle at 5:34. It was Oshie’s 11th goal and it came after his linemates, Eller and Anthony Mantha, won a puck match along the boards.

Ilya Lyubushkin equalized for 1 at 12:32 with a shot from the left circle that hit a stickless Vanecek. The Capitals had a power-play opportunity shortly after, but could not grab their best chance as Kuznetsov and Oshie passed one too many times on a mini two-on-zero.

In the second period, each team scored a goal and each team got the goal taken from the scoreboard via a coach’s challenge.

At first, it looked like the Maple Leafs took a 2-1 lead midway through the period with Spezza’s power-play goal, but after a challenge in Washington, it was decided that Toronto was offside. So late in the period, it looked like Oshie was scoring again after a deflection of an Ovechkin shot on the powerplay with one minute left. But the goal was overturned after it was determined that defender John Carlson had made a hand pass.

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Ovechkin blocked Maple Leafs defender Mark Giordano’s shot with his right foot in the first period, causing the captain to slide slowly onto the bench in discomfort. Ovechkin did not miss a shift and jumped back on the ice after a TV timeout.

The Capitals fought fiercely in their first two games against Toronto, where they got over 12-6, with goalkeeper Ilya Samsonov starting every game. He was also drawn from every match.

The most recent meeting was a 7-3 loss on April 14 in Toronto. Samsonov left after allowing four goals on 19 shots. It did not go better for Vanecek as he scored three goals on 13 shots.

Striker Joe Snively skated in a contactless jersey Sunday morning, his first appearance with the team since he underwent wrist surgery in early March.

Snively, a 26-year-old rookie, had a breakout stretch after being called up from Hershey of the American Hockey League. The Herndon native had four goals and three assists in 12 games.

He is not expected to be a solid man in the Capitals’ postseason lineup.

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