With 1:02 left and the Capitals trailing by a goal, Bruce Boudreau put his most effective line on the ice: Jason Chimera, Brooks Laich and Joel Ward, supplementing that trio with extra attacker Nicklas Backstrom and defensemen Dennis Wideman and John Carlson.
The one player you’d expect to be on the ice, Alex Ovechkin, wasn’t. Boudreau said it was performance-based.
“I thought other guys were better than him, and I thought it was just a chance that other guys might score the goal,” Boudreau said. “I’ve got to put out the guys that I think are going to score the goal. And 99 percent of the time, Alex is the guy I think is going to score the goal. I just didn’t think he was going to score the goal at that time tonight. You go with your gut feeling thinking that other line is going pretty good.”
Asked about Ovechkin’s night, the coach said: “You watched the game. You tell me.”
Ovechkin appeared upset about not playing in the final minute and his overall performance during a postgame interview on Versus.
“I think the Wardo-Brooks Laich line play unbelievable today,” he said. “They score like four goals. It’s coach’s decision, so it’s working.”
In a clip of Ovechkin and Boudreau speaking during the Caps’ timeout with 1:27 left, the two spoke and the star left wing turned to sit back down on the bench. He muttered something under his breath that appeared to include an expletive.
During a stoppage at the 1:02 mark, Laich’s line went out there.
Nicklas Backstrom scored the tying goal with 42 seconds left.
Ovechkin registered the primary assist on Backstrom’s overtime winner and was asked about how good that felt by Versus’ Keith Jones.
“It’s good. We win. We bounce back after 3-0,” Ovechkin said. “I think Brooks Laich’s line play unbelievable. They dominate them and they deserved to be there when the important moment comes.”
Ovechkin’s final shift of regulation ended with 3:11 left.
Asked what he thought was wrong with Ovechkin vs. Anaheim, Boudreau couldn’t really sum it up.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It just wasn’t working for him.”
Here’s video from TSN. The situation begins at the 53-second mark.