The common complaint is to say that Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals aren’t “clutch.” Perhaps the next wave of criticism might amount to a complete 180: maybe Ovechkin is now only clutch.*
Three of Ovechkin’s relatively low 27 goals have been game-winners this season and he’s had a particular flair for the dramatic lately. Ovechkin scored an overtime-game winner against the New York Islanders on Feb. 28 and did the same tonight with a 3-2 OT tally to drop the Tampa Bay Lightning. In the three games sandwiched in between, he hasn’t managed a single point.
Either way, Washington is very happy at the moment. The team is currently sitting in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 72 points, enjoying a tie-breaker advantage over division rivals Winnipeg (who has the same amount of points and games played).
The Jets are just moments away from playing a tough game against the Canucks in Vancouver, so the Capitals won’t need to wait long to find out if they’ll – briefly – stand alone as the East’s current final seed.
Sure it wasn’t the prettiest contest – Mike Green might sit out a game or more for a questionable check – but ultimately the Capitals passed the first of a series of tests that will truly challenge their team during the next two weeks.
* – Personally, I tend to cringe at much of the talk of “clutchness,” at least in a sport that lacks control as much as hockey usually does.