When he ripped a shot past Toronto netminder James Reimer on Saturday night, Alex Ovechkin recorded his 20th goal of the season in just 22 games and became the first player to reach the plateau this season. It’s the first time in his career that Ovechkin’s been the fastest to reach the 20-goal marker and he has accounted for a whopping 29.8 percent of Washington’s 67 total goals on the season. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him record 50 goals or more this season but the Capitals also need secondary offensive production.
No one other than Ovechkin has scored for Washington in the past three games and he’s accounted for seven of 14 goals in the last six games. The power play, which often helps spread the scoring around a good bit, has dried up recently going 2-for-23 in its past seven games. Every time teams focus on taking Ovechkin away on the man-advantage, which is becoming an increasingly common occurrence, it’s up to the other four players to find a way to make the most of their opportunities.
“We need the other guys to score goals,” Oates said. “That’s what I told them from day one. I need the diamond guy to score. I need the point shot, I need the goal line guy. We need everybody to score so they can’t take him away. When we do, it’ll open up more offense.”
The Capitals had plenty of quality looks on the power play in Toronto, where Ovechkin was smothered by the Maple Leafs penalty kill, but even with 10 shots including several top-notch looks from John Carlson at the point they couldn’t score. Players want to make sure if they’re faced with the same situation again, they create enough traffic in front to take advantage.
“I think Carly had at least seven shots from the point there. From where he shot Saturday night I think that’s a great spot,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “From there we can score a lot of goals, just need to get a little more traffic in front of the net I think and stay in front when Carly’s shooting.”
Braden Holtby (10-7-1, 2.59 goals-against average, .925 save percentage) gets the nod against the Senators, who will go with Craig Anderson (5-7-2, 3.31 GAA, .900 save percentage).
Discuss the game right here and pass the time before puck drop with these reads.
Faceoff: 7 p.m., Verizon Center
TV: CSN | Radio: 106.7 FM
Here is the Capitals’ lineup.
Goal: Holtby, Neuvirth.
Scratches: Steve Oleksy, Martin Erat and Jay Beagle.
LTIR: Jack Hillen (fractured tibial plateau), John Erskine (knee).