SUN Hockey Pool

NHL notes: Ovie's error could doom Caps

Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin sits on the ice and reacts after missing a shot on goal...

Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin sits on the ice and reacts after missing a shot on goal during the second period of their NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres in Washington, March 27, 2012. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 7:25 PM ET

If the Washington Capitals should miss the playoffs, they might look back in despair at a play Alex Ovechkin made Tuesday night.

Down 3-0 early in the second period but on the power play, the puck came back to Ovechkin at the left point. The captain played the puck rather indifferently and lost it to the Buffalo Sabres' Jason Pominville, who took it the other way and scored short-handed.

"I should play (the puck) with my skate, not my stick," Ovechkin told the Washington Post. "This mistake probably cost us the game."

And an important game it was. The win gave Buffalo a two-point lead on Washington for the final playoff spot in the East with five games to play.

BACKSTROM BACK IN?

The Capitals may or may not get skilful centre Nicklas Backstrom back in the lineup for a game Thursday night in Boston.

Washington coach Dale Hunter said Wednesday that Backstrom, out since Jan. 3 with a concussion, won't play against the Bruins.

Curiously, though, Backstrom has joined the Caps on their quick trip to Beantown -- and why send the guy on the road if he isn't playing?

The Caps are back home Saturday against Montreal.

Meanwhile, first-string goalie Thomas Vokoun told the Washington Times he was ready to return to play the Bruins. Battling a recurring groin problem, Vokoun hasn't played since March 16 and has appeared in only three games since Feb. 22.

SABRES LOSE EHRHOFF

Buffalo Sabres defenceman Christian Ehrhoff will be sidelined indefinitely because of a left knee injury.

Ehrhoff, 29, one of the team's most valuable defenders, was hurt Tuesday in the first period of a game against the Capitals at Washington.

"He'll miss some time," coach Lindy Ruff told the Buffalo News, refusing to narrow the time frame. "It'll be a period of time."

The Sabres, who are home Friday to the Pittsburgh Penguins, have a 10-2-2 record in March to move into eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

Ehrhoff has five goals and 27 assists in 66 games this season.

RASK OPTIMISTIC

Goalie Tuukka Rask, sidelined since March 3 because of a abdominal injury, hopes to return to the Boston Bruins lineup before the end of the regular season.

"I'd like to get in a game before the season is over," Rask told CNNNE.com on Wednesday. "But to be ready for playoffs is the goal."

The Bruins signed Marty Turco in Rask's absence to back up first-stringer Tim Thomas.

WELCOME BACK, VINNY

Vince Lecavalier has been pencilled into the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup for Thursday after missing 18 games with a broken bone in his right hand.

"The guys have been working so hard, as soon as I'm ready I want to play," Lecavalier told TampaBay.com. "Even if there are seven, five, three games (left in the season)."

The Bolts surged in late February and early March, but their bid for a playoff berth seemingly has run out of energy.

The 31-year-old captain has 21 goals and 25 assists in 58 games this season.

BRIEFLY

The Columbus Blue Jackets, in desperate need of a backup goalie Wednesday night, signed Shawn Hunwick of the University of Michigan to an amateur tryout deal. Hunwick was scheduled to back up Allen York after the Jackets' other goalie, Steve Mason was injured at practice Wednesday, the Columbus Dispatch reported ... The Montreal Canadiens signed Michigan defenceman Greg Pateryn to a two-year contract. Pateryn's collegiate career ended when Michigan was upset by Cornell at the NCAA championship. Pateryn was drafted by Toronto and dealt to the Canadiens as part of the Mikhail Grabovski trade in 2008 ... The Capitals recalled forward Cody Eakin from Hershey of the AHL. Eakin, 20, has four goals and four assists in 29 NHL games this season.


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