If there were any doubts about Alex Ovechkin’s health, the Capitals’ captain answered them in the opening minutes of Friday’s critical 4-1 victory over the Canadiens.
Ovechkin, who missed Wednesday’s game in Ottawa with an undisclosed lower-body injury, immediately sought to get himself physically involved by laying hits on P.K. Subban and Chris Campoli.
“Of course, in the first period, it was kind of a moment when I try to get a hit and be in the game,” Ovechkin said. “After that, I feel pretty good.”
Ovechkin registered his first shot on goal at 5 minutes 48 seconds of the second period, then scored his 25th goal of the season on a beautiful one-timer that was set up by some nifty passing from his teammates. Marcus Johnasson’s first point in five games came on a drop pass to Dmitry Orlov, who delivered a deft cross to Ovechkin in the circle.
Ovechkin’s goal came 16 seconds after Jason Chimera tallied.
“Of course, it’s always nice when you get the lead, especially when you score two huge goals in the second and give us lots of” space, Ovechkin said. “We just play simple.”
Ovechkin’s night wasn’t perfect, however. He acknowledged his misplay that led to Montreal’s only goal, scored short-handed by Rene Bourque in the third period. Bourque’s goal was the eighth shorty the Capitals have yielded this season, which ties them for second-most allowed in the NHL.
“When Montreal score goal, I make [a] stupid mistake,” Ovechkin said. “I just didn’t see everybody and throw a puck in the middle of the ice. I can’t do that kind of mistake.”
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak and edged the Capitals to within a point of Florida and the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. But Ovechkin stressed that this is no time for back-patting.
“After one win, you can’t stop and say, ‘Okay, we’re satisfied with this victory and we're going to Toronto for a huge two points,” he added. “It’s going to be an unbelievable game for us. It’s going to be like real intense game. Every mistake can cost us two points. Everybody will have to be more concentrating than even this game.”
More on Capitals vs. Canadiens: