Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin returned to practice Friday after he missed Thursday’s because of an upper-body injury and what the Capitals called precautionary reasons.

Ovechkin said Friday he has been dealing with a nagging injury. The Capitals’ last game was a 7-3 loss to the Boston Bruins on Monday, in which Ovechkin played 19 minutes and had an assist. He did not participate in practice Tuesday, which the team characterized as “a maintenance day.” Washington had Wednesday off. Ovechkin said he is hopeful he can play against the New York Islanders on Saturday at UBS Arena.

Washington also plays the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday at Capital One Arena.

Ovechkin got off to a record start this season and is seen as an early front-runner for the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player. He has 24 goals and hasn’t missed a game this season.

“It doesn’t matter how season goes,” Ovechkin said. “You don’t want to get hurt; you don’t want to feel any pain in your body so obviously ... it’s kind of sad, but nothing you can do, right?”

Thursday night, Ovechkin was voted captain of the Metropolitan Division team for the league’s All-Star Game on Feb. 5 in Las Vegas. Ovechkin said Friday he was excited about the game. He’s skipped the past two all-star games, citing rest.

“Obviously most important thing, I have to get healthy and we’ll see,” Ovechkin said. “ ... It’s great stuff, you know? You’re gonna see lots of great players out there.”

Dmitry Orlov and Carl Hagelin are still in coronavirus protocols and will not travel with the team to New York, according to Capitals coach Peter Laviolette. Hagelin and Orlov entered protocols Monday. Capitals assistant coach Blaine Forsythe entered covid protocols Tuesday.

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