But there is an incongruity now, too, with that narrative and what happened in the series against the Rangers. In Game 1, he got the Capitals on the board by stuffing Mike Green’s errant shot off the boards past Lundqvist, a willing, legitimate and frustrating nemesis. In Game 2, he assisted on Green’s goal that got by Lundqvist in overtime, and he looked to be playing his part.
Yet when the series got to New York, he all but vanished for two games, succumbing to Rangers defensemen Dan Girardi and McDonagh. Not only did he fail to score, he barely got shots on net, just three in two games, both losses. He responded with a more active Game 5 at home, when he fired off nine shots and might have beaten Lundqvist a couple of times in a game the Capitals won, 2-1, in overtime.
His best chance in Game 6 came on a little backhand, one on which he had Lundqvist leaning to the wrong side of the net. Count the times that happened in this series; you won’t need more than one hand. Ovechkin missed that shot, and the Rangers won, 1-0. It was another reminder that the Capitals need him not only to play well, to be active and engaged. They need him to score.
“You got to find ways to score,” Alzner said. “And if he can’t, then other guys got to find ways to score. And if no one can, this happens.”
And so there was Monday night. In the third period, with the Rangers up by an inconceivable five goals and Verizon Center well on its way to embracing the uneasy silence of the offseason, Ovechkin sat on the bench and bowed his head, staring at his skates and the floor — and the future as well. Over the weekend, Ovechkin was asked what he had learned about closing out playoff series when the Capitals had the chance since 2008, his first appearance in the postseason.
“I don’t remember 2008,” he said. It was his way of saying past years don’t matter. But now, six years in to his postseason career, it is all Ovechkin and the Capitals have: Expectations built on accomplishments and flair, and collapses that introduce summer after summer of wondering when any of it will change.