Alex Ovechkin happy to make history
WASHINGTON – There are nights when you simply cannot believe what you just saw.
Tuesday night at Verizon Center was one of those nights.
Alex Ovechkin was otherworldly against the Tampa Bay Lightning, scoring four times and single-handedly lifting the Caps to a herculean 6-5 shootout victory in front of an emotional crowd in Chinatown.
OK, maybe not single-handedly.
Nicklas Backstrom, the wind beneath Ovechkin’s wings, had a little something to do with it, scoring a goal and assisting on all four of Ovechkin’s goals.
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And so did Eric Fehr, Mikhail Grabovski and Troy Brouwer, who scored goals in the shootout, and rookie goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who stopped Ondrej Palat on the final attempt of the shootout for his second straight victory.
But in the end, the night, and the glory belonged to the Russian Machine.
“He is a pure sniper,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “I mean, the fourth goal, with the ice conditions at that time and the length of the pass and the weight of the pass -- that’s an incredible shot. It really is. That’s why he’s a superstar.”
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Ovechkin’s four-goal night was the third of his career and his first since Jan. 31, 2008. The fact it came after the Caps fell behind by three goals made it border on mythical.
“We’ve been in this situation before,” Ovechkin said. “I’m sure everybody knows we have lot of time left and we just have to take one at a time.”
Ovechkin’s 26 goals leads the NHL and if he continues on this goals-per-game pace and plays the Caps’ final 51 games of the season he would net a career-high 73 goals.
Let’s repeat that – seventy-three.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper was not about to throw roses at the feet of the Capitals’ captain after his team’s second loss in a row.
“Let’s face it, you can’t leave Number 8,” Cooper said. “He didn’t even have to work for his goals. He didn’t move on the first one. He didn’t move on the last two at all. If you’re going to let that guy take shots, well, this is sometimes going to happen.”
The Capitals, namely Mike Green, seemed to do everything wrong in the first period, falling behind by three goals before the Lightning had their own issues with penalties.
“You don’t want to get to this position too many times,” said Oates, who saw his team improve to 7-2 in shootouts, “because it’s not going to be easy to pull a rabbit out of your hat often. We’ve been lucky so far.”
Worth noting: Defenseman Karl Alzner left the ice after taking a nasty hit from Richard Panik along the boards 16:31 into the second period. But he returned and said he felt OK the rest of the game. He said he was not checked for a concussion. “I’m completely fine,” he said. “It was more just scary than anything.” … Philipp Grubauer turned aside 32 of 34 shots in relief of Braden Holtby for his second straight victory.