Before they were teammates, Alex Ovechkin and Henrik Lundqvist were rivals on the ice with Ovechkin being one of the top goal scorers and Lundqvist being a top goalie. Their rivalry developed through five playoff matchups against each other. This week, we are looking back at each one. Today's series is 2009.
No. 2 Washington vs. No. 7 New York
Just one year after reaching the playoffs for the first time in the Ovechkin era, the 2008-09 season was a breakout year for the Capitals who erupted for 108 points to win the Southeast Division for a second-consecutive season. Washington was firing on all cylinders offensively as Ovechkin scored 56 goals to win the Rocket Richard Trophy for the second consecutive season. He was one of three players on the team with over 30 goals that season. Alex Semin also contributed 34 while Mike Green had an incredible 31 goals as a defenseman.
The Rangers went through a mid-season coaching change as Tom Renney was fired in February and replaced by John Tortorella. Lundqvist played a whopping 70 games in the regular season marking the third consecutive season in which he played in at least 70. He managed a 38-25-7 record with a .916 save percentage and 2.43 GAA.
This was the first postseason meeting between Ovechkin and Lundqvist.
Ovechkin: 3 goals, 4 assists in seven games
Lundqvist: .908 save percentage, 3.00 GAA
Washington won the series 4-3
Ovechkin came into this series like a bull in a China shop. He was flying down the ice and hitting everything that moved. In Game 1, he recorded two assists, but did not get a goal of his own as Lundqvist turned aside all 13 shots Ovechkin fired on net. The high volume of shots did not stop for Ovechkin -- the fewest he recorded in a game for the whole series was three -- but he could not get one past Lundqvist until Game 4. Ovechkin hit the cross-bar in Game 2 and recorded an additional two assists in Game 3.
Finally, in Game 4, Ovechkin took the puck on a defensive-zone draw, took it down the ice and in for his first playoff goal against Lundqvist. Ovechkin used defenseman Derek Morris as a screen and snapped a shot off the bar and in to beat Lundqvist. Lundqvist had stopped the first 31 of Ovechkin's shots on goal in the series.
Ovechkin would try another shot from essentially the exact same location and again through a defenseman later in the game and Lundqvist snagged it with his glove for the nice save.
Game 5 featured one of the great goals of Ovechkin's tremendous career. He took the puck into the offensive zone and looked poised to make that same play again, cutting to the center to get the screen and firing the shot. This time, however, Ovechkin had a Rangers player both in front of him and to the side. Ovechkin deked right past Chris Drury, then left through the legs of Morris.and backhanded the puck past Lundqvist as Aaron Voros shoved him down to the ice from behind.
Ovechkin would score on a redirect in Game 6 for this third goal of the series. He would finish with seven points which is a good series, but Lundqvist managed to stop 46 out of Ovechkin's 49 shots for the series. Still, the Caps would come out on top, overcoming a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Rangers in seven games. Ovechkin's performance in the series and his Game 5 goal are overshadowed by how the series ended with Sergei Fedorov scoring late in Game 7 for the win.