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Capitals' Alex Ovechkin worries he “didn't play well” in the sweep

Capitals' Alex Ovechkin worries he “didn't play well” in the sweep

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was blamed for his team's opening-round loss at the hands of the New York Rangers, marking the first time the star winger has been held scoreless in a playoff series.

“It's always tough to lose a series,” he said after the Rangers' 4-2 win Sunday night in Washington, D.C. “We had very good chances. We didn't score. Our line didn't score a lot of goals.” Blame me, I didn't play well.”

Ovechkin, 38, played 15:26 in Game 4, his sixth-youngest time on the ice in a playoff game. That included just 3:22 in the first period — 16 seconds less than New York Rangers rookie Matt Rempe.

Ovechkin said after Game 4 that he was healthy for the series.

The sweep marked the first time in Ovechkin's 15 trips to the Stanley Cup Playoffs that they were made without a point in a series. His five shots on goal were also some of the lowest of the postseason: while Ovechkin was tied for 19th in the regular season in shots on goal (272), he failed to register a shot in Games 1 and 4 against the Rangers.

It's been a tough series for Ovechkin beyond the traditional scorecard. Washington coach Spencer Carbery said his captain was “struggling” after their Game 2 loss to the Rangers, which included a crucial turnover by Ovechkin on a power play that led to a shorthanded goal that gave New York a 4-2 lead late in the second period. a period.

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Carbery was hopeful that home ice advantage in Games 3 and 4 might provide friendlier matchups for Ovechkin, but the winger was unable to continue his attack.

One major issue was the Capitals' power play, which was humbled by the Rangers' penalty kill. Washington went 0-for-8 at home in Games 3 and 4, going 2-for-17 in the series.

Ovechkin is tied for eighth all-time in postseason power-play goals (28 in 151 games).

“The power play is a big part of him, when he's struggling and not getting opportunities,” Carberry said. “They screened him so tightly that every time he got the puck, he had half a second to play, and there was usually a stick and some shin guards on it. I think that played a major role for him in this series.”

But the bigger issues, according to the Capitals' coach, were the amount of energy Ovechkin had to expend just to get the team to the postseason in the final wild-card spot. Ovechkin scored 13 goals in his last 17 matches this season.

“I think this year, and just leaning on him in the second half of the year, he's done a great job of finding his game,” Carberry said. “We've been facing a big challenge scoring goals all season. In the second half [after the trade deadline] It was more challenging. That was a lot in the second half of the year. Especially in the last two weeks where every game seemed like do or die for our team. “I felt like it took a lot out of him physically and mentally going into the playoffs.”

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Next season will be Ovechkin's 20th season in the NHL. He is 41 goals away from tying Wayne Gretzky's NHL record.

Throughout his record-setting chase, Ovechkin has been adamant that he wants to play for a Capitals team that is competing for the postseason and not just a team trying to serve its quest for history.

When asked if he was concerned that this could be his last trip to the playoffs, Ovechkin said: “I hope I get a couple more chances.”

The Rangers, winners of the Presidents' Trophy for the best record in the league, advance to the second round to face the winner of the Carolina Hurricanes' game against the New York Islanders, which Carolina leads 3-1.