Alexander Ovechkin misses Capitals’ game because of a bruised heel

WASHINGTON – A bruised heel kept Alex Ovechkin out of the Washington Capitals’ game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night, only the second time in his career the reigning MVP has missed a game because of injury.

Ovechkin was hurt Wednesday when he took a shot off his right skate during practice, forcing him to remove his skate and hop to the locker room with the help of a trainer. Coach Bruce Boudreau initially thought his star player would be fine, but Ovechkin said he had a “little pain” during the morning skate Thursday and was announced as a scratch shortly before the opening faceoff.

“It’s always hard to watch when your teammates play without me and I can’t even help them,” Ovechkin said after the scoreless first period. “I just have to sit and cheer for them. It’s hard, but this happens. You can’t play every thousand games without injury – without something.”

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Ovechkin said he would be day-to-day. Asked if he will play in the Capitals’ next game – against rival Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday – he said: “We’re going to see. Probably.”

Ovechkin has missed only four games in his four-year NHL career. He sat out one game during his rookie season in 2005-06 with a groin injury, and he was away for two games early this season to spend time with his ailing grandfather in Russia.

Ovechkin tops all players with 46 goals, and is second in points with 83.