Capitals vs. Panthers Tuesday NHL injury report, odds: Alex Ovechkin back from injury; can Florida end Presidents' Trophy curse?

Caps superstar Alex Ovechkin will return from injury for Game 1 at the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.
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While the Washington Capitals are sizable underdogs for Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series at the Presidents' Trophy-winning Florida Panthers on Tuesday, the Capitals will have superstar Alex Ovechkin in the lineup after he missed the final few games of the regular season with an injury. The Panthers, meanwhile, start their quest to win a first Cup and end the curse of the NHL's No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs. Florida is -230 at Caesars Sportsbook for Game 1. 

Ovechkin suffered an upper-body injury on April 24 vs. Toronto and hasn't played since, although the Russian has said he could have if it was necessary – since Washington was essentially locked into a wild-card spot, there was no reason to rush him back. The Capitals lost all three games he missed, getting outscored 12-4.

At age 36, Ovechkin had 50 goals and 40 assists in 77 games. His nine 50-goal seasons have tied Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky for the most all-time. During his 17 NHL seasons, Ovechkin has sat out 27 regular-season games because of injury but has never missed a playoff game. Ovi ranks third all-time in regular-season goals with 780 and is 16th in playoff goals with 71 in 141 games.

Washington was 1-2 vs. Florida, with all games played back in November. Ovechkin had four goals and two assists in them. Not clear who will start in net for Washington as Coach Peter Laviolette is not saying between Ilya Samsonov (23-12-5, 3.02 GAA, .896 save percentage, three shutouts) and Vitek Vanecek (20-12-6, 2.67 GAA, .908 save percentage). Our guess is Vanecek.

Florida is a +550 second favorite to win its first Stanley Cup and won the Presidents' Trophy for the first time. However, only eight clubs have won that trophy and the Cup in the same season and just two since the 2004-05 lockout: The 2008 Red Wings and 2013 Blackhawks.

It's the first-ever postseason meeting between Washington and Florida, which led the NHL in scoring this season at 4.11 goals per game. Star defenseman Aaron Ekblad might play Tuesday. He missed the final 20 games of the regular season due to a lower-body injury. Despite being limited to just 61 games, Ekblad had career highs in assists (42) and points (57). Sergei Bobrovsky (39-7-3, 2.67 GAA, .913 SV) will start in net. He has a 3.24 GAA and .899 SV in 41 career postseason games.

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