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 2011.
No. 1 Washington vs. No. 8 New York
One year after the shocking 2010 upset at the hands of Jaroslav Halak and the Montreal Canadiens, the Caps once again entered the postseason in first place, but it was a very different looking Caps team. After some midseason struggles, head coach Bruce Boudreau adopted a more defensive philosophy. By the end of the season, Washington had claimed the top spot in the conference, but it was because of its defense which ranked fourth in the NHL in goals allowed. Offensively, the Caps ranked 19th.
Like most Washington players, the year was a down one for Ovechkin as he managed only 32 goals which remains his career-low even if you include the lockout year.
The 2010-11 season saw Lundqvist play in 68 games, the first time since his rookie year in which he did not play in at least 70. He earned a career-high 11 shutouts helping the Rangers earn the last playoff spot in the conference, just two points ahead of ninth-place Carolina.
This was the second postseason meeting between Ovechkin and Lundqvist.
Ovechkin: 3 goals, 3 assists in five games
Lundqvist: .917 save percentage, 2.26 GAA
Washington won the series 4-1
Lundqvist was very good in this series, he just had no support. In Game 1, he held Washington off the board for the first 53 minutes of the game until Ovechkin finally managed to push one through the pads on the goal line in a net-front scrum. That goal would tie the game at 1 and Alex Semin would win it in overtime. Ovechkin would add an assist in Game 2.
Lundqvist gave up only four goals in the first two games, but the Rangers had scored only one. Ovechkin, meanwhile, had one goal and an assist already. He doubled those totals in Game 3 with a goal and an assist each.
Of the five games in the series, Ovechkin was held scoreless only once, in Game 4. He made up for that in Game 5, however, with the series-clinching goal. As he took the puck in the neutral zone, he turned on the jets and just managed to turn the corner on defenseman Marc Staal, cut to the center, then backhand the puck over a sprawling Lundqvist. Lundqvist lay on the ice with his head down briefly after the goal, utterly defeated. He had given it everything and he knew his team was going to come up short.
Ovechkin got the better of Lundqvist in their second postseason meeting. Unfortunately for Washington, it was the last time Ovechkin would lead the Caps past the Rangers in the playoffs.