arrived in Slovakia on Saturday, hoping to help his native Russia capture gold at the 2011 IIHF World Championships.
Three days prior Ovechkin's Washington Capitals
were swept out of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning
in four games. Not only could Ovechkin help put some of the disappointment from losing to Tampa Bay behind him, he could also help his country rebound from a surprise loss to the Czech Republic in the gold medal game last year.
"I want to win gold," Ovechkin told IIHF.com after his practice in Bratislava. "I'm here to help the team beat all opponents."
Ovechkin will play for Russia in the qualification round against the Czech Republic on Sunday. The Russians were heavy favorites to capture a third straight championship but the Czechs defeated the Russians 2-1 thanks in part to some great goaltending from Florida Panthers
goaltender Tomas Vokoun
Russia did win the event in 2008 and 2009, and Ovechkin played a leading role for his country each year. This will be the seventh time Ovechkin has played in the tournament, and he has 24 goals and 40 points in 47 career games at the event.
He skated on a line with Maxim Afinogenov
and Konstantin Gorovikov
during his first practice with Russia, and doesn't have a lot of time to get acclimated in Slovakia before playing Sunday. Ovechkin is the only member of the Capitals who has traveled to Slovakia to play in the event.
"They are skilled and experienced partners," he told IIHF.com. "Now the main task is to get acclimatized and cope with the time change. I won't allow myself to go to bed, but will rather go for a walk around the city. We will have a difficult game against the Czechs tomorrow."