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Ovechkin has a night to forget

by Dan Rosen /
PITTSBURGH -- If anyone were to hand Alex Ovechkin a tape of Game 4 against Pittsburgh, Washington's superstar would probably toss it in the trash.

It wasn't a memorable night for No. 8.

Not only did his team lose 5-3, but Ovechkin, who was booed every time he touched the puck, had just two shots on goal. In addition, his knee-on-knee collision with Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar 14:55 into the game left his fellow Russian writhing on the ice.

Gonchar needed to be helped to the locker room and didn't return, and it's not known whether he'll be able to play in Game 5 Saturday night. There is also speculation that Ovechkin could face some supplementary discipline for the hit.

"I wanted to hit him, but I didn't want to hurt him, especially knee-on-knee," said Ovechkin, who received a two-minute minor for tripping. "I think it's a dirty hit and it's not my play. If I hit a guy, I hit clean."

Ovechkin isn't sure if the League will take a look at the hit and issue a fine or suspension. But considering how somber he was during his post-game press conference he clearly felt a lot of remorse for injuring Gonchar, someone he respects.

"I didn't have time to realize what was going on," Ovechkin said. "It was an accident. I'm not the kind of player that wants to injure guys like this. I know Gonch, and I wouldn't hit him like this."

Ovechkin said he was going after the puck in the corner, but Gonchar poked it away, so he tried to hit him with his shoulder. As he was attempting the hit, Gonchar took a quick step to his left, enough so his right knee lined up with Ovechkin's right knee.

They collided and Gonchar went flailing into the air while Ovechkin's momentum carried him around the goal. He never fell down.

"It was a shoulder check that he missed and I think that's it," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said.

As Ovechkin was being escorted to the penalty box, he kept staring at Gonchar with a concerned look on his face.

"It was accident," he stressed.

The image of injuring Gonchar might have affected Ovechkin the rest of the night, because he was, as Boudreau said, "only human."

Ovechkin was limited to a playoff-low two shots on goal despite 11 attempts at the net. Six of his shots were blocked and he misfired on three others. He did get credit for the secondary assist on Chris Clark's goal 15:08 into the second period, increasing his points streak to four games.

Asked to dissect his performance, Ovechkin said, "It's all about me. That's it."

Boudreau was a little more candid.

"He can't be unbelievable every night," the coach said.

However, that's two average games in a row for Ovechkin, who had only five shots and 10 attempts at the net in Game 3 Wednesday night. He scored a fluke goal just 83 seconds into that game, but admitted afterwards that he wasn't moving his legs on most of his shifts.

"You can take analogies of baseball players -- they don't hit home runs all the time," Boudreau said when asked to evaluate Ovechkin's performance. "They can go eight games and then hit three and everybody is back on the bandwagon. Alex is a good player, a great player, and he didn't have one of those nights where he was going to get three goals."

There is always Game 5 -- provided Ovechkin doesn't get suspended.

"It happened and I don't know what is going to happen (Saturday), but it is what it is," Ovechkin said of the collision with Gonchar. "You can't change it."

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