NEW YORK -- Alex Ovechkin expects to again be the target of another unfriendly embrace from the Madison Square Garden fans in Game 5 Monday.
"Yeah, I can't wait," Ovechkin said while flashing is famous gap-tooth smile Monday morning.
Taking a page out of the Ottawa playbook, where the fans at Scotiabank Place count down from 11:11 every period before chanting in favor of captain Daniel Alfredsson, the folks at MSG have taken to counting down from the 8:08 every period before chanting something that isn't all that kind to Ovechkin.
It includes his nickname, Ovi, but you can pretty much guess what the following word is.
Ovechkin doesn't mind it at all.
"I want to laugh, but I can't," he said.
Ovechkin looks at it as a sign of respect.
"It's always nice to hear from the fans, if they're booing you or cheering you," he said. "You're still out there and you still get some respect."
It is really special. I had a lot of friends and family here tonight, and for my first [NHL] game in here it was great. I played here as an elementary-school player in the city championships and this was my first time back. It was a lot of fun.
— Toronto native Brandon Pirri after scoring 2 goals for Panthers in win at Maple Leafs on Thursday