TORONTO | Alex Ovechkin scored a goal, a bit of a softy, on the power play Thursday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. But the Washington Capitals superstar didn’t really make much of an impact at even strength until very late in the 3-2 loss
“I think third period I pretty well, get control the puck, Ovechkin said. “First period, lots of penalties, I think eight or 10 minutes so I was not in the game a lot.”
Ovechkin played 19:39, so it’s not like the Caps’ rash of penalties kept him off the ice entirely. But, as coach Adam Oates said, “I think the penalties affected his flow at times as well.”
The captain played just 2:35 in the game’s first 12 minutes. There were four penalties in that time.
As a result, Ovechkin played with no fewer than eight different linemates at even strength, not counting the final seconds when the Caps had an extra attacker. The captain had shifts with Joey Crabb, Jay Beagle, Matt Hendricks, Eric Fehr, Marcus Johansson, Mike Ribeiro, Wojtek Wolski and Jason Chimera.
Oates tried to get Ovechkin on the ice in as many spots as possible, but with 12:11 of short-handed time, it was hard.
“You want to be out there as much as I can,” Ovechkin said. “But it’s lots of penalties. That’s what happened.”
Oates called Ovechkin’s play “good at times.” Late in the game, he had Ovechkin on the ice with Mike Ribeiro and Wojtek Wolski.
“Just looking for something, looking for a spark, maybe affect their matchups,” the coach said. “We played harder, I don’t know if that’s because we played harder or they sat back a little but obviously it was encouraging to see it.”
Ovechkin had just two shots in the game: one came on his power-play goal and the other with 2:14 left and the Caps pressing.
Ovechkin said it was up to Oates on sticking with the new lines moving forward.
“I think we was start losing it and we try and make some changes,” he said. “In the third period I think my personally, I feel good. But unfortunately we lost.”