Alex Ovechkin scored his first empty-net goal of the season in game No. 39. He was careful to slide the puck in Sunday night to seal the Washington Capitals’ victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I think he’s been missing five of them, at least, before,” center Nicklas Backstrom said. “So it was good for him to find that empty-netter.”
Ovechkin remembered at least a couple of times when he failed to score on an empty net. Craig Laughlin said on the broadcast he had six chances go by the wayside.
“Too many wasted opportunities from our team,” Ovechkin said. “I think this is our first goal in empty net. Don’t want to risk it.”
It was Ovechkin’s 25th goal of the season, tying the captain with Steven Stamkos for the league lead.
But it didn’t matter that Ovechkin put the puck in the net. Because Tampa Bay forward Alex Killorn reached his stick out from the bench to obstruct Ovechkin, it was already going to count.
“They actually made it a goal,” coach Adam Oates said. “The referee had already called it. But he skated all the way in. I think the whole crowd knew, too.”
It’s rule 56.7, Awarded goal: “If, when the goalkeeper has been removed from the ice, any member of his team (including the goalkeeper) not legally on the ice, including the Coach or non-playing Club personnel, interferes by means of his body, stick or any other object or piece of equipment with the movements of the puck or an opposing player in the neutral or attacking zone, the Referee shall immediately award a goal to the non-offending team.”
Here’s the video of Ovechkin’s first empty-netter of the season: