Of all the magnificent things Alexander Ovechkin has accomplished this season, he pulled off one of his biggest magical feats Monday night in Philadelphia.
With two flicks of his wrist, he silenced 19,927 people at the Wachovia Center.
After being mostly invisible since his winning goal in Game 1 of the Capitals' Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with the Philadelphia Flyers
, Alex showed just how Great he is with a pair of third-period goals as the Caps earned a 4-2 decision in Game 6 to force a Game 7 Tuesday night in Washington.
"The big-game players always find a way to do it, and Alex did it tonight," said Brooks Laich
. "With him it's not a matter of if; it's a matter of when. It's going to get done."
And it got done in a major way Monday night.
Tied 2-2 going into the third period, Ovechkin tipped a Kimmo Timonen
pass at the Caps' blue line, and the puck trickled to Viktor Kozlov
. Ovechkin immediately broke out, and Kozlov hit him in stride a step over the center-ice line.
Ovechkin went in all alone and beat Martin Biron
2:46 into the final period. Then, after the Flyers were whistled for having too many men on the ice, Ovechkin rocketed a one-timer from the left circle past Biron for the two-goal final margin.
"We talked about not giving him free goals, and a breakaway and a wide-open one-timer from the slot are two free goals that shouldn't have happened," said the Flyers' Mike Richards
"I just tell myself what I have to do and I do it," Ovechkin said. "I just play simple and try not to create some crazy moves. Play simple, and it's working."
Prior to Monday night, little had been working for Ovechkin.
The Flyers had used the defense pairing of Timonen and Braydon Coburn
to stifle the League's leading regular-season scorer, rendering him a non-factor with 19 shots, no goals and a minus-3 rating in the four games before Monday night's season-saving outburst.
"He worked so hard, and I was so happy for him because you could see he was starting to get a little frustrated," said Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau
. "They're doing such a good job on him. He persevered and did what he had to."
"He's taken a lot of heat from (the media), but he's done other things that's helped us win games," said Laich. "Now he comes up with two huge goals to silence a lot of people. I think now he's on a bit of a roll."
Boudreau, for one, thinks Monday's two-goal outing was like the first cracks in a dam. He says the burst is about to come.
"When he's scoring, I don't think there was a person in the building that didn't think he was going to score another one right away," said Boudreau. "That's what happens when great players are in slumps, they get one, they get them in bunches."
Teammate Sergei Fedorov
, a vet of so many big moments in his career, said he had a simple message for Ovechkin going into Monday's game.
"I don't think I said much, except I said, 'Alex, you have to keep shooting when chances come your way, you're eventually going to score. And hopefully it's sooner for us than later.' "
Ovechkin's play also silenced the throaty Philly mob, which had been booing Ovechkin every time he touched the puck. But Ovechkin took the hostility in stride and allowed it to serve as a perfect background for his latest magic act.
"It was fun," Ovechkin said with a broad smile. "I love it. Thanks to them."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org.