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Alex Ovechkin has returned to the Washington Capitals after missing four games following the death of his father, Mikhail, last week.

Ovechkin hasn't played with the Capitals since Feb. 12, but he returned to practice on Wednesday. Ovechkin told reporters that the death of his father was the "toughest situation" he has dealt with in his NHL career. Ovechkin said it was important for him to return to the ice and his teammates as quickly as possible after landing in the United States.

"Yeah, obviously," Ovechkin said. "We just landed a couple hours ago, and I tried to come back on the ice as soon as I can. I skate only one time. It is what it is, you know. That's life. Obviously, it was a hard week mentally and physically. Thankful for everybody's support -- the fans and the organization obviously. I saw what they put on the Jumbotron. It means a lot. It's special. All of my teammates, I have full support."

With 32 goals on the season, Ovechkin is the Capitals' leading scorer by a wide margin, and the team has lost every game in his absence. Ovechkin wants to turn his attention back to hockey and help the team out of its slump.

"I just want to come back right away and put my mind in a different position," Ovechkin said. "We're struggling right now, and I want to do my best to bring the energy and bring something to the team."

Ovechkin's status for Thursday night's game against the Anaheim Ducks has not yet been confirmed by Washington head coach Peter Laviolette.

As Ovechkin returns to action, the Capitals will try to climb back into playoff position. Washington has lost five straight games in regulation, and it is two points out of the second Wild Card spot with 23 games remaining in the regular season.