Mike Green and Alex Ovechkin

Caps injury news: Alex Ovechkin returns to practice; Mike Green skates but isn’t sure when he’ll be back

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Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin has missed the last three games with an undisclosed injury and while we don’t know what it is that’s eating the Great Eight, it appears that he’ll be getting back to action sooner than later.

Today, Ovechkin practiced with the team for the first time since going down with his secret ailment. Ovechkin tells Katie Carrera of The Washington Post that he thinks he’s ready to go.

Ovechkin wasn’t sure if he would be back in the lineup for Tuesday’s game against Carolina, though.

“I don’t know. It’s not my decision,” Ovechkin said. “How I said, I’m ready to go, but I don’t know how it’s going to work right now with tomorrow.”

That’s good news on that front because the Capitals without Ovechkin in the lineup to steady their offense have been a bit erratic getting shutout by the Senators and scoring just twice in a 2-0 shutout against Montreal.

As for defenseman Mike Green who’s been out with a concussion suffered against the Rangers, he skated today in full pads for about 25 minutes. While that’s a very encouraging sign, he’s unsure about when he’ll be back to action but at least he’s feeling hopeful that it’ll be soon.

The two-time Norris Trophy finalist said he is feeling better, but acknowledged that he was still experiencing symptoms.

“Here and there, but nothing that’s progressing to get worse — it’s always getting better,” Green said. “We’ve done a great job here with the trainers and the staff of taking the right procedures for me to get better. The unfortunate part is that it does take time. It’s nice to get a good skate and hopefully now I can get back on the ice and back playing with the team.”

The Caps have been playing great in Green’s absence from the lineup but there’s no doubt that they could use his offensive touch from the blue line. Dennis Wideman’s addition has been welcomed and has given them a bit of a lift. Obviously with Ovechkin being close to back in the lineup that’s huge, but getting Green back after he has been out since February 25 to help steady their attack and improve their defense cannot be understated.

Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.

Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.