Ovechkin gets sent off, Caps get win
Star issued a game misconduct in 2-0 victory over the Sabres
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Alex Ovechkin, without a doubt, was having his best performance since returning from an injured shoulder five games ago. But the two-time MVP didn't get the opportunity to finish it.
He was ejected for the second time in his career in the third period, leaving his teammates to protect a one-goal lead without their best player. The Washington Capitals did, thanks to a clutch goal by Eric Fehr and another sparkling performance by Semyon Varlamov, who earned his first career regular season shutout in a 2-0 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.
The Capitals' win snapped a three-game losing streak (0-1-2), but the focus afterward was on Ovechkin's controversial hit on Sabres agitator Patrick Kaleta at 3 minutes 38 seconds of the third period and whether the Capitals' winger would face any supplementary discipline from the league. Ovechkin's penalty, strangely enough, was the first on either team all night.
Ovechkin appeared to catch Kaleta as he turned toward the boards. According to the rules, Ovechkin was tossed because the boarding infraction resulted in an injury to the face or head of Kaleta, who left the ice bleeding from the nose.
"We just watched it a half a dozen of times, and he hits him in the shoulder, in the side," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Kaleta saw him coming. It might have warranted a two-minute minor, but I don't think it warranted anything more than that."
Ovechkin, who had scored his 17th goal in the first period, added: "I just got take a hit and he's turned and he fell on the boards. It was too much penalty."
Asked whether he expected to hear from league disciplinarian Colin Campbell, Ovechkin said: "If it happens, it happens. I don't think there's going to be something."
Ovechkin is no stranger to controversy. He was fined $2,500 for a "slew foot" on Atlanta's Rich Peverley on Oct. 22. And three years ago, he was ejected after receiving a major penalty for boarding then-Sabres center Danny Brière.
Ovechkin's ejection deprived the Capitals of their best player. But it also seemed to spur them on.
After killing off Ovechkin's penalty and then a delay-of-game infraction on Mike Green, Fehr scored with 6:22 remaining to help the Capitals close out an opponent in the third period and win for the first time in more than a week.
"We wanted to make sure that we got another goal," Fehr said. "The fact that Alex was gone really fueled the fire for us."
Fehr's goal was set up by Brendan Morrison, who circled the Sabres' net and then sneaked a pass through the crease to Fehr, who fired the puck past Ryan Miller (22 saves).