It was apparent from the early stages of Washington’s eventual 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators that Wednesday night would include a reminder of those vintage performances from Alex Ovechkin.
The Capitals’ left wing was a noticeable presence, zipping around the ice, finishing his checks and driving with force to the net. His goal 13 minutes 50 seconds into the third period, the second of Washington’s four in the frame, was something that the Senators were helpless to prevent.
Ovechkin carried the puck from deep out of the defensive zone, flew down the left wing boards and then wrapped his way around the net until he was above the right faceoff circle. He stopped sharply, changing direction back toward the net and shaking the defensive coverage of Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, then faked a slap shot and followed with a shot that snapped past Craig Anderson. (video below)
“I think we have great chances in first period to score, especially our line and myself, to score like three or four goals,” Ovechkin said. “Of course, it’s pretty good when you score goal – finally. I think last couple games I have good chances to score, it just doesn’t go in.”
In total, Ovechkin finished with that one point, seven shots on goal and one hit in 18:06 of ice time. He misfired on a few chances early on in the contest, but he showed signs of the offensive swagger that can force opponents to back off of him.
The contest also included a play in the second period where Ovechkin apparently speared Ottawa winger Chris Neil. Ovechkin was not penalized on the play, but Neil received a two-minute minor for unsportsmanlike conduct for diving. More on that play, and the potential repercussions Thursday morning. The NHL typically reviews such plays, but it won’t be known until Thursday if Ovechkin will face any supplementary discipline.
Ovechkin followed the goal, his ninth of the season and first since Nov. 25 against the New York Rangers, with an exuberant celebration. It’s no secret that the Capitals feed off Ovechkin’s energy when he is on top of his game, and his teammates hope that he can follow Wednesday’s game with more of the same.
“We need him to do all the things that everyone else is doing,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “We need him to produce too, same as me. I’ve got to produce too and we’ve all got to make sure we deserve our ice time out there.”
Said Troy Brouwer: “He’s our star player we need him to play like it. He set the tone early, had a couple good shifts couple good opportunities and you could see one [goal] coming in him. He had that desire to score tonight. He’s got to continue with it. One goal isn’t a season and he knows that. He wants to score every game, he wants to lead every night. Hopefully tonight will give him a little bit of confidence so he can get back to the old Alex Ovechkin that we know.”
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