Over the course of the season certain teams have chosen to take away Alex Ovechkin from the Capitals’ power play. They shadow him, sending one player to monitor his every move, make sure that there are no clean passing lanes to him and limit his ability to fire that one-timer.
But in overtime, where a power play is four-on-three, a penalty kill can’t do that because of how much open space it would create. So when Brendan Smith tripped Troy Brouwer in overtime to give the Capitals their sixth power play of the game, you could almost predict what would happen next.
From down on the goal line, Nicklas Backstrom fed the puck to John Carlson at the point, where the defenseman sent a pass over to the left circle primed for the most dangerous one-timer in the league. Ovechkin blasted a shot past Jimmy Howard’s blocker side to clinch a 6-5 Capitals win over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.
“I was pretty much open,” Ovechkin said. “Sometimes it’s kind of boring when you know they’re going to put one guy close to you and you’re basically out of the game [on the power play] but Wardo and everybody do great job we play well on the power play.”
As Ovechkin mentioned, Detroit’s strategy didn’t render the power play ineffective. Joel Ward and Carlson both recorded goals on the man-advantage, but it was Ovechkin’s that gave the Capitals a win out of this chaotic game.
The tally also tied Ovechkin for the third-most overtime winners in NHL history with 15. Only Jaromir Jagr (18) and Patrik Elias (16) have more.
It wasn’t the first time that Ovechkin had a chance to tee up that shot, though. With two seconds left in the first period, he had a completely open net but shanked the shot high above the cage. Of course that miss couldn’t go unnoticed by Coach Adam Oates.
“Maybe he needs a goalie in there sometimes,” Oates deadpanned. “Great goal, big goal for us. I can’t tell you guys how bad the ice is at that time of the game. It’s horrific at that time of the game. … For him to get good wood on it is really difficult let alone find that spot.”