A motivated Alex Ovechkin keeps scoring as Capitals keep winning

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Andrew Gillis
·3 min read
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A motivated Ovechkin keeps scoring while Caps keep winning originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Conor Sheary has seen a different side of Alex Ovechkin for the majority of his six-year career. And that side of the aisle can be terrifying.

First with the Penguins, then for a season and a half with the Sabres followed by another brief stint with the Penguins, Sheary spent years in meeting rooms and dressing rooms where coaches centered gameplans around stopping No. 8 both at five-on-five and, more importantly, on the powerplay.

Now, Sheary has a front row seat to witness firsthand what it looks like when Ovechkin keeps scoring and the Capitals keep winning. 

With two more goals Friday night against the Devils in a 4-0 win at Capital One Arena, Ovechkin moved himself into a tie for sixth-place in the league's goal-scoring race with 17 goals. He’s just four off the pace of leaders Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid, and right now no one seems able to slow him down.

“It's pretty impressive,” Sheary said. “I think he took it to heart when everyone was saying he had a bad start. He's probably the hottest guy in the league now. But it seems like every shot he takes is dangerous. It's just amazing how many opportunities he's able to get and how many goals he's able to score.”

After a slow start to the season, by Ovechkin’s standards at least, he’s not only become the hottest Capital, he’s likely the NHL’s most deadly goal-scorer right now.

His relatively slow start, though, led to questions about Ovechkin’s play and what it meant for the 35-year-old captain. When the goals weren’t coming early in the season, it was common to find a narrative about how his age had finally caught up to him. 

That’s a narrative Ovechkin seems to have taken personally. And not only is he pushing back against those opinions, he seems to be winning a fight against Father Time, too.

“He's a guy that takes a lot of pride in his game and a lot of pride in scoring goals and pride in his team being successful, and he knows that he's a big part of that,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “I think just the way things went down to start the year, it maybe didn't get on track quite the way he wanted it at the beginning of the year which probably fuels him even more.”

The Capitals have won 13 of their last 15 games (dating to Feb. 25) and 9 of their last 10 (dating to March 7). In those 10 games, Ovechkin has scored 10 goals. 

A motivated Ovechkin has led the Capitals on their run to put some serious distance (14 points) between themselves and the fifth-seeded Rangers with just 23 games left to play. 

While it’s not clear if Ovechkin will ease off his goal-scoring rampage anytime soon, it certainly says something that the question is if, not when.

“There was times a few weeks ago when the goals still might not have been coming, but there was a lot of attempts, there was a lot of shots, there was games where he left where he could have had two or three and didn't happen,” Laviolette said. “That usually tells you that it's probably going to happen soon. And so he just stuck with it. It's really noticeable right now his contributions.”