MONTREAL – There was an air of determination from Alex Ovechkin on Saturday morning when he talked about wanting to be back in the lineup so he could help the Washington Capitals finally break out of their seven-game losing streak.
The star winger did return to the lineup in Montreal after missing two games with a groin injury, and Ovechkin did indeed contribute the Capitals securing a 5-0 slump-busting win at Bell Centre. Braden Holtby, Jay Beagle and John Erskine also contributed.
“Big win, good win for boys and for Holtsy as well to bring confidence back,” Ovechkin said. “Sometimes we just have to break through. You can see who scores the goals, Beags, Ersk, those guys that don’t score a lot. It’s nice for them, it’s nice for us to have that kind of momentum on our side.”
Ovechkin recorded his league-leading 36th goal 1:46 into the second period against the Canadiens on an improbable bouncing puck play, and in the process he delivered Washington its first lead since Jan. 15 at Pittsburgh.
This wasn’t the type of goal Ovechkin is known for scoring, but it was just what the Capitals needed. As time ticked down on a power play early in the second, John Carlson threw the puck on net and both Joel Ward and Jason Chimera tried to knock it into the net, causing a pinball reaction in front. Montreal netminder Carey Price made a save on Chimera but directed the rebound out toward the left post – directly to Ovechkin.
As the puck bounced, Ovechkin managed to knock it out of mid-air and settle it just enough to fire a shot in off Price.
“I just saw Chim set up and thought please be a rebound on my side,” Ovechkin said. “Kind of tough angle but it’s in and we’ll take it. We just have to fight through [the slump] and finally it goes on our side.”
Ovechkin skated a team-high 22:41 in his first game since Jan. 19 at New York when he suffered the groin injury. He was on the ice for two other goals in the victory as well, recording the primary assist on Casey Wellman’s tally in the third, and said he didn’t feel overtaxed in his return.
“I feel not bad,” Ovechkin said. “It’s first game after break, I feel a little sore, but it’s normal thing.”