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Ovechkin’s tongue sure does look spry and healthy. (Photo: R-Sport)

For the first time since the Olympics, Russia had both Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin in their line-up. Russia defeated France 3-0, but the two superstars did not skate exclusively together. Malkin was paired with Viktor Tikhonov and Nikolai Kulyomin, while Ovechkin skated on the second line with Sergei Plotnikov and Vadim Shipachyov.

In his grand return from his definitely-not-a-knee injury, Ovechkin skated 12 minutes over the first and second periods. He was benched later in the third period and did not record any shots or points. A day after saying, “I am not wearing any brace,” Ovechkin wore a knee brace.

After the game, Ovechkin spoke to reporters about his health.

“I am feeling good,” Ovi said to R-Sport, as translated by RMNB’s Igor Kleyner. “Maybe a bit awkward to skate, but I think I will play the next game without the brace. I hope it will be much better. There are still two days, so I think I will recover to 100%.”

“I wasn’t jeopardizing my health,” he continued. “I knew in case of a collision the brace would protect me. I had collision in the first period, and I realized the leg felt all right. There was no pain at all, and I was not on any painkillers.”

Ovechkin also revealed that he did indeed talk to the Washington Capitals’ team doctor before the game. “There were no orders forbidding anything,” Ovi said. “There was advice, but what specifically I can not tell you. Everything depends on the situation.”

In regard to not playing late in the game, Ovechkin said, “We had an agreement with Znarok. If the outcome is assured, I could sit on the bench and rest.”

Russia, who remains the last unbeaten team at the worlds, will face the winner of the Sweden-Belarus game on Saturday.