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Alex Ovechkin thought it was kinda weird playing alongside Sidney Crosby, too

Alex Ovechkin thought it was kinda weird playing alongside Sidney Crosby, too

LOS ANGELES—For a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon, Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby put aside their rivalry and teamed up in the NHL All-Star Game as the Metropolitan Division’s top forward line.

The Metro won the 3-on-3 mini-tournament—and claimed the $1 million prize—but the results for the league's two marquee players were a bit of a mixed bag.

“It was fun,” the Caps’ captain said of skating with Crosby. “I think we had pretty good chances. We [were] not that sharp, but when we needed [to], we score goals and [got] a couple of assists.”

Ovechkin recorded a goal and an assist in the Metro’s 10-6 semifinal win over the Atlantic. But he did not record a shot—and was on the ice for two goals against—in his team's 4-3 championship win over the Pacific.

Crosby’s stats, meantime, were strikingly similar. A goal and an assist in the semis, a goose egg and a minus-2 in the championship.

Despite the uneven performance, Ovechkin said he had a blast—even if it felt a tad strange skating alongside No. 87.

“Yeah,” Ovechkin acknowledged, “but it was all about the fun.”

RELATED: Ovi says he's 'best friends' with Crosby?

Indeed, no rivalry elicits the same hype that Ovi vs. Sid does. Crosby holds a 24-14-3 edge in head-to-head regular season meetings with Ovechkin. Sid’s Penguins have also vanquished the Caps in the second round of the playoffs twice since 2009.

So it was notable that the two not only shared the same line on Sunday, but that cameras showed them talking numerous times throughout the weekend. During the skills competition Saturday, they compared notes about sticks. Prior to Sunday’s tourney, they discussed strategy.

“We just talk about how we’re going to play out there,” Ovechkin said. “If we’re [down] by one, what we’re going to do. It was just simple things, normal things. [Metro Coach Wayne] Gretzky came to us and said we’re going to play together so we have to have chemistry and we have to understand a little bit about how we have to move out there.”

Crosby said the chats came naturally.

“We’re here, we love the game,” the Penguins’ captain said. “This is a great experience from Friday until the game today. We just enjoyed ourselves.  We didn’t have to try to do that. Playing on the same team, going through the skills and all that stuff, it was kinda just easy for that to happen.”

But that doesn’t mean the two will be hanging out again anytime soon.

Asked if they’re buddies now, Ovechkin shrugged and cracked, “Um, yeah, best friends. How I always said.”

At the start of the semifinal game, Ovi and Sid looked like a couple of stars who had never played with one another. Crosby missed Ovechkin on a 2-on-1. A shift later, they failed to connect again.

“I couldn’t even find my breath after the first couple of shifts because you go back and forth back and forth,” Ovechkin said. “It was Jesus Christ, like, are we in a playoff game or all-star game? But after that, you find a rhythm and then you’re fine.”

By the second half of the semifinal, though, they seemed to settle into a groove. Crosby finished a pass from Justin Faulk to put the Metro ahead 7-5 late. Ovechkin recorded the secondary assist.

Then as time wound down, Ovechkin tapped a cross-ice pass from Crosby past Tuukka Rask to provide the final margin.

In the final, both got shut out points-wise. Still, they accomplished what they had set out to do: help lift the Metro to a win, a year after the division got bounced in the semis.    

“You always want to win; it’s fun,” Ovechkin said. “We sacrificed our body out there, blocking shots. ...When we [were] in the final, we [said] we have to go, we have to push, we’re going to take it.”

Asked if the prize money served as motivation, Ovi joked:  “If someone is going to give you one million bucks to share and to split and you’re close, why not?”

MORE CAPITALS: Ovechkin, Crosby team up for Metropolitan Division

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How to watch classic Capitals games this week on NBC Sports Washington

How to watch classic Capitals games this week on NBC Sports Washington

If you just can't get enough iconic Caps games during quarantine, then NBC Sports Washington is the place for you.

All week long beginning Monday, April 6, NBC Sports Washington will be airing classic Capitals games, including multiple comebacks and culminating with the five games against Vegas in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.

The games leading into the postseason re-air will include multiple memorable finishes from the 2019-20 season.

Of course, if you make it that far, you certainly won't want to miss the re-airing of the Capitals championship parade that follows.

Here's a rundown of all the games airing this week on NBC Sports Washington:

Washington Capitals at Vancouver Canucks

Date: Monday, April 6
Time: 8 p.m.
Original Game: October 25, 2019

Backup goaltender Ilya Samsonov had a rough day in net, allowing five unanswered goals in quick succession from the end of the first period into the second. But Evgeny Kuznetsov broke the Caps' drought in the final second of the second period, sparking the team to a remarkable four-goal comeback.

The Caps would eventually win in a shootout, kicking off a six-game winning streak.

Vegas Golden Knights at Washington Capitals

Date: Wednesday, April 8
Time: 8 p.m.
Original Game: November 9, 2019

The game that capped off the Caps' aforementioned six-game winning streak - and extended their point streak to 11 - was an easier win. The Caps pulled ahead early and never looked back, keyed by Backstrom's two-goal day.

Of course, games against the Golden Knights will always have a special place in fans' hearts after the summer of 2018.

San Jose Sharks at Washington Capitals

Date: Thursday, April 9
Time: 8 p.m.
Original Game: January 5, 2020

This was as wild a finish as the Caps have had in a long time. Down 3-2, they pulled Braden Holtby late in the third period, and the Sharks took advantage with an empty-netter. Then, miraculously, the Capitals scored twice in the final 47 seconds of the game to force overtime, where they won the game.

The Caps would have considered themselves lucky just to come away with a point here, and instead, they got two in one of the most memorable finishes in franchise history.

How to watch the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, Washington Capitals vs. Las Vegas Golden Knights

All-day Sunday, April 12

Game 1
Time:
9 a.m.
Location: Las Vegas
Original Game: May 28, 2018

The first team in the nation's capital to make even a semifinal run in 20 years, the hype surrounding the Capitals in the Stanley Cup Final was immeasurable. The Golden Knights hosted Game 1 with a breathtaking opening ceremony, and the two teams jumped on each other early with a 2-2 first period. 

Washington took the lead 4-3 early in the third period, but Braden Holtby struggled during the frame and the Caps fell 6-4 to fall behind in the series, as they had throughout the postseason run.

Game 2
Time:
11:30 a.m.
Location: Las Vegas
Original Game: May 30, 2018

The Caps fell behind early in the game, but bounced back to steal a close Game 2. Alex Ovechkin scored his first goal of the series, Braden Holtby was superb - including an all-time legendary save - and the Capitals headed home tied 1-1 in the series.

Game 3
Time:
2 p.m.
Location: Washington
Original Game: June 2, 2018

The first home championship game Washington hosted in years, Game 3 was as hot a ticket as you'll ever find.

Holtby was terrific once again, allowing his only goal in the third period. Evgeny Kuznetsov recorded a goal and an assist, and to nobody's surprise, it was Ovechkin who scored the Caps' first home goal of the series.

Game 4
Time:
4:30 p.m.
Location: Washington
Original Game: June 4, 2018

Game 4 was the Caps' biggest explosion. They scored six goals in the game, including three on the power play. Six different players netted goals for the Capitals in a well-rounded effort, boosted by Backstrom's three assists.

After their easiest win of the series, the Caps were riding high up 3-1 heading back to Las Vegas.

Game 5
Time:
7 p.m.
Location: Las Vegas
Original Game: June 7, 2018

The one that needs no introduction, right? After a scoreless first period, the teams exploded for five combined goals in the second period, including a power play goal from Ovi.

Trailing 3-2 entering the third period, the Caps needed someone else to step up, and they got it. Devante Smith-Pelly tied the game midway through the frame, and Lars Eller gave them the Cup-clinching goal a few minutes later.

Holtby held on the rest of the way, and the Capitals became your 2018 Stanley Cup Champions.

Championship Parade

Time: 9:30 p.m.
Original Date: June 12, 2018

What more needs to be said? The Capitals kicked off the great summer of celebration in style, parading through Washington, D.C. and sharing the glory of their title runs during an unforgettable afternoon with thousands of fans.

If you somehow missed this live, you don't want to miss re-living it now.

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Lars Eller may be the Tiger, but Caps coach Todd Reirden is not about to lump him in with the people from 'Tiger King'

Lars Eller may be the Tiger, but Caps coach Todd Reirden is not about to lump him in with the people from 'Tiger King'

Like everyone during this time of social distancing because of the coronavirus, Todd Reirden is getting some extra time to catch up on some TV. Also like everyone, one of the shows he has watched during the NHL's pause in the season is the Netflix docuseries "Tiger King."

"I did take myself through the 'Tiger King,'" Reirden said on a conference call Monday. "That I did watch. I watched that one on my own. I did not have my wife and son in on that one. I wanted to be prepared for discussion points with the players if they had seen it. So I did watch that. I'll just leave it at that, but I did watch it."

So Reirden has watched it, but just for reference. Right.

"It's just one of those things that you want to be prepared for as a coach because you know they all have watched it and I saw the amount of people that have watched it," Reirden said. "I have not gotten into in-depth discussions but when I do get together with the players one day when things become normal again for us."

While Reirden was diplomatic about what he thought about the people featured in the series, he also made it clear he was not about to compare any of the Capitals players to Joe Exotic or any of the other...colorful characters. That includes Lars Eller.

Eller's nickname, of course, is 'Tiger' after he chose the tiger for his spirit animal in a talk with Tony Robbins. When Reirden was asked Monday if Eller was the team's "Tiger King," Reirden was pretty quick to shut that down.

"Lars Eller, I mean he is our Tiger for sure on our team," Reirden said. "I hate to couple him into the same kind of personality that's going on with the 'Tiger King, 'but certainly he has the name for it. So that's an interesting thought that I need to spend some more time on before I commit to it."

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