When the Capitals were looking for a killer instinct, the ability to squash any hope the New York Rangers might have had about winning the teams’ Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, Alex Ovechkin may have been at his best this postseason. And when Washington controlled the play with just a one-goal lead, it was Ovechkin who pulled out a vintage goal at a crucial moment to increase the lead.
As one of Coach Bruce Boudreau’s regular sayings goes, the Capitals best player was their best player as Washington captured a 3-1 win and four-games-to-one series victory to advance in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“Today was his best game, easily,” Boudreau said of Ovechkin. “And I mean complete. The other games, he’s had flashes of brilliance and then he’s been not so visible. Today, I thought he was very visible. He was on the ice doing the right things and I thought his goal was spectacular.”
Boudreau put Ovechkin on the right wing Saturday afternoon – his usual side is left – but that didn’t seem to have any negative impact on the Washington captain. In fact, his highlight-reel moment came when he rushed up the right wing, powered around New York’s Marc Staal for a backhanded shot that beat Henrik Lundqvist in the second period.
It’s hard to know exactly how important Ovechkin’s tally at 7:04 of the second period was, but the nature in which it was scored, as the Rangers gave up a considerable amount of space to the perennial all star (more than he’s been getting this series) simply seemed demoralizing.
The tally also provided a boost to his teammates as they strategically attacked the Rangers then smothered them as the game pressed on.
“It’s impossible to stop that guy when he drives wide,” Karl Alzner said. “I’ve tried in practice. He’s just so strong. If he can go up there and do that all the time, that’s going to be pretty good. That’s a good player that he went around there, too. Hat’s off to him.”
Said Matt Hendricks: “That’s typical Alex. That was great. He’s been throwing a lot of kicks at the can every game and for him to get that one in the style that he scored it, at the time of the game and everything, it was picture perfect.”