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Round 2
Round 3
Stanley Cup Final

Throngs already await Ovechkin

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- With a major contingent of local, national and, yes, international (Canadian) media waiting by his dressing room stall, Alex Ovechkin took his time to get off the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

Scott Walker, Ovechkin's neighbor in the Capitals' practice facility, walked in first, saw the huge throng of scribes and cameramen and said something to the effect of, "Sorry to make you wait, guys."

Then No. 8 walked in and Walker, now completely out of room to change, quipped to the training staff, "Thanks guys, for putting me next to Ovi." Ovechkin apologized to Walker, but he's the obvious superstar here and people were lining up at his stall well before he was off the ice, jockeying for position just to make sure they didn't miss a word he had to say.

The Capitals' captain spoke for nearly eight minutes. Here is a raw snippet of what Ovechkin had to say on the eve of Game 1 of Washington's first-round playoffs series against the Montreal Canadiens:

 
You've said it before that you love playing Montreal. Why do you love playing this team so much?

"It's a great history team and lots of attention and everybody just watching those kinds of games so you want to show up. You don't want to just skate and play, you want to show your best stuff."

Do you need to win the Stanley Cup to prove you are one of the best players ever?

"What do you think? I think yeah. I think everybody who plays hockey, especially in the playoffs, wants to win (the Stanley Cup). I want to win. I don't want to prove anything in particular, I just want to win. If I don't play well and the team win, I don't care what people say because I just want to win."

Do past failures, such as last year against Pittsburgh and this year at the Olympics in Vancouver, fuel the fire in your belly?

"I don't see those kinds of moment motivate me. Every year we have a chance to step forward and get closer to a Cup. I hope this is going to be our year to bring Stanley Cup home. We all want it, but just because you want it you don't get it. You have to work and play better than the other teams."

You came off the ice early from practice yesterday (Tuesday), so are you completely healthy?

"Yeah. I just want to be in good shape. I don't want to give my emotion in practice. I just want to be calm and concentrate."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

It's hard to walk into that locker room and look those guys in the eye when they've played -- clearly, that was our best game we've played in the series -- and I thought we deserved a better fate tonight.

— Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper on his team's 3-2 loss to the Canadiens in Game 3 on Sunday