With the playoffs set to begin in a couple of weeks, it’s go time for Alex Ovechkin, who scored three power play goals Tuesday night in a wild 5-4 overtime victory in Minnesota.
It was Ovechkin’s second hat trick of the season but, more important, it was yet another sign that the Caps’ captain has begun ramping things up after a somewhat quiet (for him) regular season.
In fact, since his team’s ugly four-game losing streak earlier this month, Ovechkin has brought it—and then some.
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- Over the last seven games, Ovi has tallied six goals and four assists. The Caps, meanwhile, have gone 6-0-1.
- During that span, Ovi has three multiple-point performances. He had just one multi-point game in the 14 prior contests.
- Known for being a prolific shooter, the 31-year-old winger has gone back to basics and begun shooting the puck more. A lot more. Over the last seven games, in fact, Ovi has recorded an NHL-high 42 shots on net during that timeframe. In the 14 games prior, he notched a total of 42 shots, a concerning stretch that including three games without a single shot on net.
- In addition, Ovi has reached double digits in shot attempts three times—15 vs. Tampa Bay, 13 vs. Calgary and 17 vs. Columbus—over the last seven games.
Indeed, with seven games remaining in the regular season it appears Ovechkin has flipped the switch to playoff mode. And the significance isn’t lost on his teammates.
“This is the time to really get focused and get playing your best hockey,” T.J. Oshie told reporters in Minnesota. “We’re doing that. And I think a lot of that has to do with O’s work ethic and how hard he’s been playing lately. A guy that dynamic, when he’s working that hard, it’s just going to open things up. He’s been doing a good job for us.”
Ovechkin, meantime, praised the Caps’ crisp execution on the power play as the regular season winds down. During the team’s seven-game run, the unit has struck eight times on 22 opportunities (36.4-percent). Ovechkin owns five of those tallies and has moved into a tie with Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov for the league lead in power play goals (17).
“Our unit play well,” Ovechkin said. “You can see how we move the puck. We’re a dangerous power play unit out there. It’s nice we start clicking at end of the year and going into the playoffs. It’s very huge for us.”
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