NEW YORK | Adam Oates doesn’t think Alex Ovechkin was “tired” late in the Capitals’ Game 3 loss to the Rangers, despite that insinuation by New York defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
In talking about the game-winning goal by Derek Stepan, McDonagh told the New York Daily News that he thought Washington’s captain looked tired.
“Step’s got pressure, so he didn’t get the puck in my wheelhouse, and I kind of caught it off-center,” McDonagh told the Daily News. “And then I was seeing Ovi standing straight-legged, like he was tired, so I tried to go back against him and keep the play alive. That was great passing by [Mats Zuccarello and Rick Nash], and Stepan goes to the net. That was a huge goal.”
Replays showed Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson made mistakes on the play that led to Stepan’s goal at the 13:35 mark of the third period Monday night.
The Caps did not practice Tuesday, and Washington reporters requested to speak with Ovechkin on the team’s off-day. He was not made available.
Asked about McDonagh’s comment, Oates disagreed and took responsibility for Ovechkin not getting regular shifts.
“I don’t think he was tired,” the Caps’ coach said. “I think that I didn’t do a good enough job getting him in his rhythm, probably, because of penalties.”
The Caps spent 10:08 of the first 28:32 short-handed, making it difficult for Oates to find ice time for guys like Ovechkin and Mike Ribeiro, who don’t kill penalties.
Oates double-shifted Ovechkin with the fourth line for a 25-second shift during the second period, and the captain finished with 22:07 of ice time.
“I doubled him up on the fourth line one time, and then after that we were OK but until then it was hard because every time I was thinking about it we got another penalty,” Oates said. “It was tough. After the second period, Mathieu Perreault’s line was having a great game yet I couldn’t get them on the ice. It’s very difficult. We just can’t take too many penalties.”