On Monday night, the Capitals’ 3-2 overtime loss in Game 5 to the New York Rangers was a gut-wrenching defeat. It was also a game that saw Alex Ovechkin held without a single shot on goal. Washington’s star left wing was credited with two attempts – one missed, another was blocked.
It marked just the second time in 49 career playoff games for Ovechkin that he had been held without a shot on goal. The other contest was April 15, 2010, in Game 1 against the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Ovechkin didn’t comment on the lack of shots following the loss and didn’t speak with reporters on Tuesday, but Coach Dale Hunter said he just wants to see the star left wing continue to create opportunities.
“You know, just get more pucks to the net. He tried a few that got blocked,” said Hunter, who dismissed the notion that the Rangers significantly altered their approach to defending Ovechkin. “They’re doing a good job blocking, too, so he’s just got to keep trying to get pucks to the net…. If you keep attempting shots good things will happen.”
Ovechkin routinely faces double and triple the pressure of other players on the Capitals’ roster as teams try to limit his options. But when teams hone in on a star player it’s up to them to work through it, said Nicklas Backstrom, who didn’t address Ovechkin’s lack of shots specifically but rather how a forward can combat special defensive attention.
“Just got to try and work harder,” Backstrom said. “You’ve just got to find a way to get pucks to the net, I think, and maybe go in front of the net and battle harder.”
When the Capitals look to rebound and extend this series past Game 6 on Wednesday, one thing they will definitely need is more from Ovechkin.
More on Game 5:
— Game 5 was bad, but was it the worst?
— Steinberg: Worst loss ever?
— Greenberg: Caps are down, but not out.
— Wise: Caps don’t know how to seize success
— Caps give away Game 5 in overtime, 3-2
— Graphic: Capitals 2012 playoffs, shot by shot