Washington Capitals coach Peter Laviolette confirmed Alex Ovechkin is "unlikely" to suit up Wednesday against the New York Rangers.
Ovechkin, who's battling a lower-body injury, spent just 39 seconds on the ice in Monday's 6-3 victory over the Rangers. He had missed Washington's previous four games before that.
The 35-year-old leads the team in goals (24) and is seventh in assists (18).
The Capitals have four games left on the schedule, and they've already clinched a berth in the playoffs. Perhaps Laviolette is being proactive with Ovechkin and sees little reason to risk a more serious injury before the postseason.
Goaltending is one of Washington's biggest concerns heading into the next phase of the year. The team is 18th in goals against per game (2.94), and neither Vitek Vanecek nor Ilya Samsonov has logged a single playoff appearance in the NHL.
Winning it all without an elite defense isn't impossible, but it's certainly tough. The Caps might need to score goals in bucketfuls to lift the Stanley Cup for a second time.
Because of that, Ovechkin's health is paramount. If he's not at 100 percent, then it could spell serious trouble for Washington.