Washington Capitals’ captain Alex Ovechkin scored twice at even strength — marking the eighth multi-goal playoff game of his career — and had six shots, four hits, and one blocked shot in the team’s 5-2 Game Two loss to the New York Islanders. Despite the Russian machine’s herculean effort, the Capitals now trail the Islanders 2-0 in their first-round series. Only 14 percent of NHL teams who lose the first two games of a best-of-seven series come back and win.
After the game, a frustrated Ovechkin shared the blame with his teammates and said the team knows what to do to get back into the series.
Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov talk to the media after a 5-2 loss in Game 2 against the Islanders. pic.twitter.com/SI3UJOaE2h
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) August 15, 2020
“Obviously, we know we all have to play better,” Ovechkin said. “It starts with me. Everybody have to play better. Everybody make mistakes but we can’t be focused on one mistake. We have to move forward and move on. It’s a good thing we still have plenty of games left. We’ve been in this situation. We know how to fight. We know how to play. We’re going to do our best. I believe in this group and we all believe in each other. It’s not panicking. It’s just two to nothing. We know our strength. We know what we have to do to bounce back. We’re going to take it game-by-game.”
Ovechkin was then asked if the New York Islanders were frustrating to play against.
“No,” he said. “We know the system. We watched the video. We all know how to play against those types of teams we just have to play better. We have plenty of skills. We have plenty of character in the locker room. Tomorrow we’re going to watch the video. We’re going to work on our mistakes. We’re going to forget this game and move on. It’s not over yet.”
The future Hall of Famer also had jokes. Ovi had a chance to score a hat trick and tie the game on a power play midway through the third period, but could not bury a one-timer into a yawning net.
Ovechkin misses a wide open cage pic.twitter.com/VYH3l7fD7N
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) August 15, 2020
“It was a bad pass by Kuzy,” Ovechkin quipped, turning to his distressed center beside him at the interview table. “Nah, I just missed the net. Shit happens.”
While Ovechkin focused on the future, Capitals defenseman John Carlson dissected the team’s poor play putting the onus on the team to generate more offensive chances and battle to harder areas on the ice to get back into the series.
John Carlson and Braden Holtby talk to the media after a Game 2 loss against the New York Islanders pic.twitter.com/UoksFjsQ7j
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) August 15, 2020
“I think a lot of things need to change, obviously,” Carlson said. “At this time of year, we need to be much more disciplined. Keep the emotions in check. Games are going to go back in forth; we know that. The way we react to them is what matters. We haven’t played those big moments well so far and we don’t sway the momentum when things aren’t going our way quick enough. There’s a lot of things to nitpick about our game right now. I think those big moments, big power-play opportunities in the third, coming off a goal – we always talk about those things, we haven’t done a good job in this series yet.
“I think they’re very disciplined and they stick to it the entire game,” he added when asked about the Islanders’ style of play. “You can talk about ways to beat any defensive system, whether it’s like theirs which is very collapsed back or whether its another team’s high pressure that’s in your face, there are ways to beat each team. We haven’t consistently worked hard enough to get to the right areas. When we have scored, we have gotten to those areas. Against a team like this, we have to put together a more complete effort — work for those breaks, find those breaks, give ourselves enough offensive chances to work for those breaks.”
The Capitals do have experience to draw on to get back into the series. The team initially fell behind 2-0 to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the 2018 playoffs. After getting a double-overtime goal from Lars Eller in Game Three, the team rolled to win four straight and go on to win the Stanley Cup. But that team was different and so were the circumstances.
“I think the mental aspect is huge for any player in the playoffs and as a team collectively,” Carlson said when asked about that. “We’ve got to work on things, push this thing behind us, and move forward in the right direction. I’m confident in our group that we’re capable but we’ve got to work for it.”
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