- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 9, 2009

PITTSBURGH | Sergei Gonchar left his team’s Game 4 victory with a knee injury after a hit from Alex Ovechkin, and his availability for Game 5 is in doubt.

Ovechkin skated toward Gonchar, and they met in a knee-to-knee collision with about five minutes remaining in the first period Friday night.

“I try to hit him, and he try to move to his left and I don’t have time to realize what is going on,” Ovechkin said. “I’m not the kind of player who wants to injure players, especially I know [Gonchar]. Yeah, it was probably knee-on-knee, but I try to hit him with my shoulder. … It was accident.”

Gonchar did not return to the game, and coach Dan Bylsma was uncertain afterward if his top defenseman would be able to play Saturday night, when this Eastern Conference semifinal moves back to the District.

Penguins players were not happy with the hit and said they expect the league to review the infraction. For his part, Ovechkin showed remorse.

“I was disappointed too,” Ovechkin said. “I didn’t want to hurt [Gonchar], but it is the game. This happens. … I don’t know what is going to happen, but what do I say? I didn’t want to him … I mean I wanted to hit him, but I didn’t want to hurt him, especially knee-on-knee. I think that is dirty hit, and it is not my play.”

Added Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik: “It’s tough to call on a live play, but we saw the replays after that and he sticks his leg out. Hopefully, the league takes action on it. That’s not my job, but we were pretty frustrated by the whole thing.”

Caps powerless

The Caps spent the time between Games 3 and 4 lobbying for more-even officiating, and they did receive four power plays Friday night. But those extra opportunities were wasted.

“It didn’t go good tonight, but we’ll go back and fix it again tomorrow,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. “They make adjustments. We were 1-for-2 the other night, and they made an adjustment. We were supposed to adjust to what they were doing, but we didn’t do it. We’ll go back to the drawing board and think of something else.”

Washington went scoreless with the extra man. What’s worse, the Caps only registered one shot on net - two fewer than they had short-handed.

“We just have to play simple,” Ovechkin said. “You could see it in second period. We try to be so cute and everybody - me, [Mike Green], [Alexander Semin], [Nicklas Backstrom] - we have skills but our point and our key is to play simple game. We talked about it in the locker room, but it just didn’t work.”

Beagle debuts

Two years ago, Jay Beagle was in the playoffs - the ECHL playoffs with the Idaho Steelheads, that is. Now Beagle is officially in the NHL postseason after making his debut with the Washington Capitals in Game 4.

Beagle was recalled from Hershey of the American Hockey League to replace Michael Nylander in the lineup. Defenseman Karl Alzner was returned to the Bears.

“When I was told by our GM [Doug Yingst] a lot of emotion went through right away,” Beagle said of his arrival here. “I am just excited - I am the happiest kid in the world right now.”

Beagle played two years at Alaska Anchorage, then joined the Steelheads at the end of the 2006-07 season. After a successful stint in Idaho and a strong showing at Washington’s summer rookie camp, Beagle signed an AHL contract with Hershey and impressed the Caps’ brass enough to earn an NHL deal.

He made his NHL debut this season at Madison Square Garden and played in three games for the Caps. He had four goals and nine points in 47 games for the Bears, and also missed time with a concussion. He had 19 goals and 37 points for Hershey last season.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Beagle said of his rapid rise. “I’m sure after this is all done, I will look back on it. Right now I am in the moment and just focusing on the task at hand and kind of taking it all in.”

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