By: Andrey Osadchenko
It’s official. Ovie isn’t him anymore. At least, so far he isn’t. Last night he made it obvious in arguably the most hockey obsessed town on Earth. A town where he scored 14 goals in 12 previous games.
Washington Capitals came to Toronto having scored just 2 goals in their previous 2 stanzas. Yes, it’s the NHL most offensive-minded team we’re talking about. Yes, it’s the team of which Alex Ovechkin captain. And, yes, they managed to take 40 shots on Jonas Gustavsson only to score a sole goal.
It all started early. At 1:39 of the first period Tim Connolly registered his 400th NHL point beating Tomas Vokoun top-shelf. The Caps strcuk back right away with Brooks Laich’s screened shot 51 seconds later. However, that was the only successful attack for DC guys that night. Gustavsson stopped a total of 40 shots, including 8 from Ovechkin.
The ACC crowd vividly recalls "The Great 8" at his prime. This is probably why every time the Capitals’ captain picked up the puck in his own end and steamed down the left wing, the TML fans gasped feverishly – god knows what Ovie’s got on his sleeve tonight. After all, he still has 7 goals this season. Only last night he had nothing.
Fourty-four seconds before the first intermission, Matt Frattin slapped one home and got his first NHL goal. Recently recalled from the Marlies, Joe Colborne got an assist and his first point of the season. Then came the onslaught, more commonly referred to as ‘the second period’.
The Maple Leafs scored 4 tallies in the following 20 minutes, forcing Capitals’ head-coach, Bruce Boudreau, to pull Vokoun at 25:29. His backup, Michal Neuvirth, didn’t do much better, allowing 3 goals on 11 shots (72.7 SV%).
Not a very good night to be a Czech reporter, don’t you think? How do you approach your compatriots after such a devastating loss. Unfortunately for Irina Paulova, who covered the game for one the Czech media outlets, she had no choice. Being a Russian reporter, I know exactly how she felt – I had to talk to Ovechkin and Alex Semin. The latter was unreachable, while the captain didn’t have a whole lot to say in any language.
“Right now every goalie against us plays great. We have lots of skill on this team and all our lines can score goals like how you saw in the first ten games, right now nobody can score, we’re just frustrated”, (sadly) commented Ovechkin.
If at the begging of the game Toronto fans were getting silent every time Ovechkin had the puck, by the third period they gained confidence and openly booed arguably the best Russian to ever play in the league. Ovie got furious by constant chants in his regard and tried to turn the table in the last minutes of the game, but was unlucky.
On the other hand, the Leafs had everything go their way.
“I think we played well against the Predators but were a little bit unlucky. Tonight we were better at finishing and on a powerplay. I don’t think we have a problem with scoring. We create a lot of opportunities every night”, said Leafs’ winger Nikolai Kulemin.
Joffrey Lupul, who scored a goal and had 4 points in that game, couldn’t agree more with his teammate. "It was just one of those nights," he said. "We knew we were on the verge of one of those breakout nights and everyone contributed tonight, the power play was good, the penalty kill was good sand [Gustavsson] was awesome”.
The frustrated Capitals lost their third game in a row, being outscored in that stretch 14-3. They are now tied for 8th place in the Eastern Conference with the Habs, Devils and Senators. The Leafs are 5th and only one win away from passing the Sabres for first place in the North-East Division.