He finished with eight shots on goal and 17 attempts; he has 33 shot attempts in his past two games. He nearly tallied his 699th goal multiple times; the biggest groan from the heavy pro-Capitals crowd came early in the second period on a power play, when his signature one-timer from the left circle hit the right post.
"He's getting himself into some good spots and that's really the least of my concerns," Capitals Coach Todd Reirden said. "He hits a post, a couple plays that are bouncing off guys on the way in, he's getting himself into scoring areas which is the key for him and you know for me, it's about our team being able to help him out and be able to produce a little more through our four lines."
While Ovechkin seemingly was doing everything but score, the rest of the Capitals were out of sync: Players whiffed on pucks, passes weren't sharp, and a turnover in the neutral zone led to a goal in the second period. The Capitals seemed to come together and connect in Thursday's 3-2, comeback win at the Colorado Avalanche, but their struggles returned Saturday.
"We're finding our way and it is not going to be easy, but in the long run, going through these types of games and having a tough time scoring makes you focus on your defensive play, because at times that isn't going to be there," Reirden said. "For us, we want to work from our end out and when we get those chances as we move forward here, we have plenty of skill and ability to be able to convert on those and right now we are not finding the back of the net."
The Coyotes' game-winner came on a power-play deflection by Phil Kessel at 5:25 of the third period. With just three seconds remaining on defenseman Michal Kempny's penalty for tripping, Jakob Chychrun patiently waited up top before flinging the puck into the slot, where Kessel redirected it past Braden Holtby. The Capitals' goaltender had another solid night, making 27 saves.
"Oh yeah. I think he play with confidence and that's what you need from him," Ovechkin said. "We all knew how good he is, how good Sammy is and if something happen we always knew he would step it up and make a pretty good save."
The Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals (37-16-5) had opportunities in the final 14-plus minutes to find the equalizer, but they couldn't light the lamp. Lawson Crouse's empty-netter with 27.8 seconds left ended the drama.
The Capitals now head to Las Vegas to wrap up their three-game road trip Monday against the Vegas Golden Knights. They hope to end it on a high note and get back center Evgeny Kuznetsov, who did not play Saturday. He has missed back-to-back games after suffering an upper-body injury in a loss to the New York Islanders on Monday.
While Kuznetsov's absence wasn't glaring Saturday, the rest of the Capitals' top six failed to produce offensively despite some close calls by Ovechkin. The captain had been on a stunning heater before this four-game drought, posting 14 goals in a seven-game span. On Saturday, he seemed to do everything but score.
"Of course, you want to get it  over with and move forward, but, how I said, if you didn't score you just move it forward," Ovechkin said. "You can't be focusing and thinking like, 'Oh, I didn't score. It's over.' Sooner or later it will come."
Ovechkin was trying to reach 700 goals in the same building where he scored perhaps the most memorable goal of his 15-year NHL career: his falling-to-the-ice, behind-the-back tally against the then-Phoenix Coyotes during his rookie season in January 2006. But on Saturday he couldn't get the puck Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta, who made 36 saves.
The Capitals' Carl Hagelin tied the score at 1 with 2:50 left in the second period. The Swede scored on a rebound after a strong rush to the net by former Coyote Richard Panik. Hagelin, whose tally was his fifth of the season, has nine points (four goals, five assists) in his past 11 games. Panik recorded his first point since a Feb. 2 assist against Pittsburgh.
The Coyotes produced the first goal at 7:06 of the period when Christian Dvorak went five-hole on Holtby. A turnover in the neutral zone led to a give-and-go opportunity for Dvorak and Conor Garland. It was the fifth straight game in which the Capitals had given up the first goal.
"We should probably just now on try to get the puck deep every time," Hagelin said. "Don't make any plays the first five minutes and just get it deep and start skating because that is where we are at our best. Like you said, we've had some bad starts and we need to figure that out."
Holtby (21-12-4) kept the Capitals within striking distance with some strong stops in the third. For the second straight game, he was the Capitals' best player. He held strong Thursday at Colorado as the Capitals rallied, notching 32 saves, and he again showed Saturday that he is more than capable of holding his own.
"I think he was great tonight," Hagelin said of Holtby. "Obviously some great saves there in the first and couldn't do anything on that goal early, he was our best player."
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