Since he took over as coach, Adam Oates’s has been on a quest to work with Alex Ovechkin to create more for the star winger. More touches, more shots, more scoring chances, more goals and more areas of the ice where he’s a dangerous offensive presence.
Ovechkin’s two goals in the Capitals’ 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues Sunday night were both a demonstration in his finding, and capitalizing, on more types of scoring opportunities.
His first tally of the night, 16th of the season, came after Ovechkin’s shot off a set faceoff play went wide and allowed the Blues to clear the puck. But the top line regrouped well when defenseman Steve Oleksy picked off a pass and then found Nicklas Backstrom near center ice. Backstrom made a nifty tap pass to Ovechkin, who saw the play develop, wheeled around and was sent cutting through the Blues creating ample space for a shot that screamed past Jaroslav Halak.
His second, which tied him with Blues captain Alexander Steen for the league lead in goals with 17, was the result of Ovechkin residing in a high-traffic area. As his teammates kept control of the puck along the perimeter and Backstrom sent a pass over to Karl Alzner on the left point, Ovechkin hovered in the slot. When Alzner fired a shot, Ovechkin pushed his way toward the net, outmuscled defenseman Ian Cole and managed to fire a backhander into the right corner despite moving away from the net to the left.
“First one was not like usual, I was kind of mad because I have the same opportunity probably second shift or first shift and I miss the puck. But I take a slapper it goes in. I’ll take it,” Ovechkin said through his trademark gap-toothed grin. “Second one, I find the rebound and backhand. Kind of surprise two goals.”
On plays like the second goal, Oates wants Ovechkin in front of the net. It’s already resulted in a few goals for him this season and the star winger likes that he’s getting all types of scoring chances.
“Oatesy talk about how I have to stay more in the middle of the ice in the offensive zone because lots of pucks go there and I can find the rebound there,” Ovechkin said. “It’s working and those kind of goals we need.”
Here’s goal No. 16.
And No. 17.
Five thoughts on the Capitals’ win to follow Monday morning.