Alex Ovechkin and the fading Capitals have won only one of their last six games heading into Friday night against the visiting Vancouver Canucks, which Oates calls "a must win."
Washington has 15 games left and entered Thursday in 11th place in the 16-team Eastern Conference. Only the top eight teams qualify for the post-season.
There have been various problems lately, including poor passing and puck possession. Also glaring: Ovechkin's sudden lack of scoring. The three-time NHL MVP and team captain leads the league with 44 goals, but has been held without a point in each of the last four games, matching his worst drought this season.
Life's about opportunity and how you respond to that opportunity, and obviously he must have some swagger about him, some confidence about him, because he was solid. He made some good saves. He was 6-foot-3 on every shot, which is a good thing for a goalie. He played well. We got a win.
— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock on rookie goaltender Garret Sparks, who made 24 saves in his first NHL start, a 3-0 win vs. Oilers
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