ARLINGTON, Va. --
Good, bad or meaningless, Alex Ovechkin
has not yet taken over a game in this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal against the Rangers with his incredible ability to break a team's heart by potting a key goal or goals.
That's a pretty sweet thing for the Washington Capitals
to have going for them Tuesday night when they host Game 7 at Verizon Center against the Rangers (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS).
"The playoffs are a different game and you don't have a lot of room out there," Caps defenseman Mike Green
said, "so if Alex does that, it will be incredible."
Ovechkin, who in the regular season scored 10 game-winning goals and had 13 multi-goal games, has scored one goal in each of the last three games, but none have proven to be incredibly crucial for the Capitals.
While his most incredible goal came in Game 5, you could argue that the one that had the most impact was the goal he scored in Game 4. He finally beat Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist
2:13 into the third period, but the Caps still lost, 2-1.
Considering his knack for showing up in the big moments - No. 8 has a goal in each of the last four games in which the Caps have faced elimination dating back to last season (5 goals, 1 assist in those games) - perhaps we should be expecting Ovechkin to have his breakout game of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs Tuesday night when everything is on the line.
The Caps, though, are not.
"Every player, when he's on the ice, knows that he is on the ice," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau
said. "You'd like to see it happen, but I don't expect it to because the Rangers are too good a team."
Lately, though, the Capitals have taken it to the Rangers pretty good with Ovechkin playing a role, albeit a big one, but hardly the kind that you would call the best of his career.
He has seven points in the series, but his contributions in other areas have actually been more noticeable. Ovechkin has a League-best 44 shots on goal and 24 hits. He is averaging more than 23 minutes of ice time per game, but that would be closer to 24 or 25 if the Caps weren't ahead by four goals entering the third period in each of the last two games.
"It makes us that much more dangerous when Alex does break out," Capitals defenseman Brian Pothier
said. "The guy has been unbelievable. His minutes are up there. He finishes every check. He's all over the ice. He's diving to make defensive plays. He's just been amazing and the fact that he doesn't have to score three a night is a relief for him and the team. It's just a matter of time before he does get that big game, but in my opinion he has had those big games in different areas."
If anybody is wondering, Ovechkin is definitely geared up for Game 7. He looked a little tired when he met the media Monday -- he did not skate in the Caps' optional practice -- but said he will get a lot of sleep the rest of the day to stay relaxed and focused.
He doesn't want to have that same feeling as he did last year when Philadelphia forward Joffrey Lupul
scored the series-clinching goal in overtime of Game 7 after the Caps fought back from a 3-1 deficit in the series by winning Games 5 and 6.
"It's the seventh game of the series and right now I just think about relaxing and being ready for (Tuesday's) game," Ovechkin said. "(Tuesday) is going to be huge and everybody understands that. We realize we can't make the same mistakes as last year.
"We have more experience and we get another opportunity."
Contact Dan Rosen at email@example.com