Alex Ovechkin is creating scoring chances. He’s finding space coming down the right side, varying his approaches and using his teammates to his advantage – all things Coach Adam Oates wants to see from the star winger. Yet despite all of the positive aspects of Ovechkin’s recent play, the goals are not coming.
Thursday night in Washington’s 3-2 loss to the Devils, Ovechkin was a dynamic and imposing presence in the first two periods. Each time he barreled into the offensive zone toward goaltender Martin Brodeur, all New Jersey defenders could do to corral him was to haul him down.
Ovechkin drew tripping penalties on two of the breakaways, missed the net on the other and ultimately wound up with his eighth pointless game of the season.
“I have faith that he will [score],” Oates said. “He has and we all know that he will and I’m glad that he got three opportunities in the second [period] all alone, which means that the puck is falling his way a little bit because we’re doing the right things.”
In addition to the breakaway chances, Ovechkin had several looks on the power play. But in 6 minutes 56 seconds of ice time during the man-advantage he recorded only one shot on goal. Three additional shot attempts by Ovechkin on the power play missed the target and another was blocked.
“Moment is there. And power play I have very good chances,” Ovechkin said Friday. “I don’t know why, but puck just don’t want to go to the net.”
The increased opportunities are a product of Ovechkin growing comfortable on the right side and the Capitals believe if he continues to get chances, the finishing part of the equation will follow.
Devils winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who is friends with Ovechkin, said he isn’t worried about whether the 27-year-old winger will be able to find his scoring touch once again.
“He really want to do it, I can see in his eyes he was trying his best last game,” Kovalchuk said. “He was flying around trying to hit the guys, shoot the puck, couple breakaways. It’s going to go in.
“He created a lot of chances. He was doing that to go across, get the puck with speed and when he got the puck with speed it’s tough to be defenseman,” Kovalchuk said. “I’m pretty sure he’ll be OK.”