Washington Capitals superstar captain Alex Ovechkin will return to the lineup against the visiting Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, head coach Peter Laviolette announced.
Ovechkin, 37, had been away from the team since Feb. 14 following the passing of his father Mikhail Ovechkin, whose funeral was held Saturday in Moscow.
The Capitals lost all four games in Ovechkin's absence and were outscored 16-7.
"I think Alex wants to come back and help our team be successful, whatever that means, whether it's him scoring three goals or one goal or just playing a great game and our team winning the hockey game," Laviolette said Thursday. "That's probably first and foremost on his list, but I'm sure he wants to come back and have a presence in the game."
Ovechkin skated for approximately 45 minutes on Thursday morning.
"Obviously it was a hard week mentally, physically," Ovechkin said. "It was probably toughest situation I've been through my whole NHL career. But it's life, and we move on."
Ovechkin has recorded team-leading totals in goals (32) and points (54) in 54 games this season. With 812 career goals, the three-time Hart Trophy winner trails only Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky (894) on the NHL's career list.
Also on Thursday, Laviolette announced that forward Anthony Mantha will be placed on injured reserve due to an upper-body ailment.
Mantha, 28, has 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in 54 games this season.
He has 249 points (117 goals, 132 assists) in 407 career games with the Detroit Red Wings (2015-21) and Capitals.
--Field Level Media