Washington Capitals’ Win Streak Fueled by Alex Ovechkin’s Sizzling Palms

Whereas Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has been a mannequin of consistency over the season totals of his profession, throughout a season itself, he has confirmed to be a really streaky objective scorer. Again on Feb. 27, Ovechkin was having, by his requirements, a sluggish 12 months, with simply six objectives in a marketing campaign extra notable by a four-game absence resulting from COVID protocol in January than his on-ice efficiency. (from ‘Alex Ovechkin returns, scores additional time winner as Capitals beat Bruins, 4-3,’ Washington Publish, 01/30/2021)

However with the Capitals locked in a decent race within the MassMutual East Division with some robust competitors, the Russian has discovered his stride within the final three weeks and he now recorded eight objectives in Washington’s final 11 video games. Ovechkin has seven objectives within the workforce’s final eight video games, together with the one two his workforce scored Friday evening in opposition to the New York Rangers, incomes his a hundred and fifteenth game-winning objective within the course of — fourth all-time in NHL historical past.

Washington had a reasonably listless offensive show general within the win Friday, because the Rangers restricted the Capitals’ offensive alternatives for a lot of the contest leaving the workforce pissed off. Nevertheless, Ovechkin took over the sport within the third interval after taking a tricky hit from Ryan Lindgren within the second, fueling a frantic end that noticed the Caps’ captain crashing the online and delivering two objectives within the recreation’s final seven minutes for a 2-1 win that helped put his membership in sole possession of first place within the division. The workforce then fell again right into a first-place tie with the New York Islanders following a 3-1 loss in a rematch with New York Saturday.

Friday’s pair of objectives weren’t the same old one-timer from the workplace for Ovechkin, however him going to the highest of the crease and knocking in unfastened pucks. After the hit from Lindgren, he hit one other gear and took the workforce on his again, not in contrast to a recreation in opposition to the Montreal Canadiens again in 2008 the place he broke his nostril after which delivered a four-goal efficiency in an additional time victory.

“Typically it’s a must to get these actually gritty ones,” Ovechkin stated afterwards on Friday. “It’s nonetheless the identical whether or not it’s a objective from my spot or no matter. It’s most necessary objective, and I’ll take it.”

Dionne Subsequent in Ovechkin’s Sights

The efficiency was the most recent spotlight in a memorable week for Ovechkin, who handed Phil Esposito along with his 718th profession objective Tuesday evening in opposition to the Islanders. He has a great probability to cross Marcel Dionne for fifth place in NHL historical past earlier than the quick season is completed, as he trails him by 11 objectives with 25 video games left within the common season.

Alex Ovechkin is now simply 11 behind Marcel Dionne’s profession 731 objectives for fifth place in NHL historical past. (Photograph by Bruce Bennett Studios by way of Getty Photos Studios/Getty Photos)

Washington gained seven in a row earlier than Saturday’s setback, all with out the suspended Tom Wilson, and 5 of these with out Lars Eller. Needing offense with Wilson and Eller out, Ovechkin has delivered.

“Proper now for us it doesn’t matter what number of video games we win. I believe it’s essential to gather the factors,” Ovechkin advised reporters after Friday’s win. “Clearly I attempt to get entangled.”

Ovechkin’s recreation has modified through the years, as he not has the end-to-end rushes that marked the early years of his profession, however now utilizing his potent shot to mild the lamp. 

Regardless of his sluggish begin to this season, he’s now on a 43-goal tempo over an 82 recreation season. Within the 27 video games he has skated this 12 months, and he additionally has 11 helpers — already simply eight shy of what he had in 68 video games final season.

Regardless of having turned 35 this previous September with a brand new contract arising, Ovechkin, now sixth within the NHL’s all-time goal-scoring record, seems to be heating up on the proper time for the Capitals. 

As Stretch Drive Looms, New Contract Might Arrive

That is shaping as much as be an intriguing stretch for the Capitals, because the Boston Bruins, Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers have all proven some indicators of vulnerability the previous couple of weeks, with various flaws that they’ll attempt to appropriate earlier than the April 12 commerce deadline.

Alex Ovechkin Washington Capitals
Alex Ovechkin’s 13-year contract is up on the finish of the season, however he might have a brand new multi-year deal earlier than the common season finishes. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

For essentially the most half, Washington has proven it has been capable of constantly earn factors because the workforce has been largely wholesome, as Friday’s win gave the Capitals 12 wins in 15 video games, and not less than a degree in all however two. Definitely the workforce has been capable of rating objectives all through the season, as they’re one among simply six groups to attain 100 objectives within the marketing campaign, and averaging 3.4 objectives per contest. 

The protection and goaltending have been good on this stretch with Ilya Samsonov taking among the load and delivering some good saves in tight video games this month. 

As Ovechkin brings his drive to the Capitals offense, it seems sooner relatively than later he’ll signal a contract that can maintain him within the nation’s capital as he seems to try to catch Wayne Gretzky for the NHL’s goal-scoring title, in addition to hopefully delivering one other Stanley Cup banner to the Capital One Area rafters.

It appears extra possible Ovechkin will signal earlier than the common season ends, with a four- or five-year deal north of his present cap hit of $9.5 million — possible within the $11 to $12 million vary. The captain has proven little want to skate elsewhere within the NHL, and his want to play within the KHL on the finish of his enjoying days appears to be years off with him nonetheless being a really productive NHL participant.

With Ovechkin now starting to warmth up as Washington seems to safe a playoff spot within the MassMutual East Division and put together for what must be an fascinating end to the common season, as he chases down historical past whereas his workforce seems to make a deep run this spring. 

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