Alex Ovechkin didn’t have a particularly large impact on Washington’s 3-0 win over the Canadiens on Saturday afternoon in his first game back after serving a three-game suspension. But it certainly doesn’t hurt for the Capitals to have the face of the franchise and captain back in the mix.
Ovechkin finished with no points in 21 shifts, totaling 19 minutes 57 seconds of ice time. He recorded one shot on goal, while two attempts missed and another two were blocked. The star left wing was also credited with three hits.
While his impact on the score sheet may have been minimal, his presence occupies much of the opposing team’s attention.
“Obviously we need him back,” Dennis Wideman said. “Our power play wasn’t great tonight, but when he’s out there, they pay a lot of attention to him and that opens other things up. And when you can open them up and get a shot, he has a chance to score every time we load him up. It’s big for us to have him in the lineup.”
There were a few shifts in which Ovechkin managed to draw the Canadiens to him in order to set up his teammates, or when he put his powerful stride on display as he pushed past an opposing defender.
If he’s experiencing any rust, Ovechkin will have an opportunity to shake more off on Sunday when the Capitals host the defending Stanley Cup Champion Bruins at Verizon Center. For Saturday, though, Ovechkin was simply pleased to be back in the mix and part of a win.
“I feel pretty good, fresh out there. I go back and forth; I was not tired. It’s a good sign for me,” Ovechkin said. “It’s just game situation and I miss it. I’m pretty happy we won and I’m pretty happy I was in that game.”