New York - Alex Ovechkin was waiting for the horde of reporters when they entered the Capitals’ dressing room. He had already been sitting at his locker stall in full uniform, including skates, for almost 10 minutes before the doors opened. He patiently answered a few questions about another painful end to the season after a devastating 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday night in the decisive game of the Eastern Conference semifinals – the fourth time in five years that Washington has watched the other team celebrate after a Game 7 loss.
“It’s terrible feeling now. All I can say, we do our best and it’s probably best team I played,” Ovechkin said. “You know, group of guys and atmosphere, everybody was – it’s unbelievable to play and I hope everybody gonna stay here until next year. It’s hard.”
Ovechkin wasn’t as dangerous as he’d been in a vintage performance in a Game 6 victory that extended the series on Wednesday. He finished with two shots on goal and had two attempts blocked. He also missed the net completely twice. Credited with four hits, Ovechkin tried to maintain a physical presence. He was on the ice for New York’s second goal – the eventual game-winner – but did not really figure into the play after being knocked to the ice in the offensive zone by defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who eventually scored on the play.
“He was good,” was all coach Dale Hunter said afterwards about Ovechkin’s performance. Left unsaid – it just wasn’t enough. His team lost by one goal and the Rangers kept Ovechkin from being the dominant force who could have scored three or four goals in Game 6.
Now, it’s time to shift into an uncertain offseason. There is the collective bargaining agreement negotiations between the NHL Players’ Association and the owners and Washington has several prominent free agents, including Ovechkin’s friend and fellow Russian Alex Semin. That’s all for the coming months and Ovechkin didn’t want to think much on that. He was still trying to process the end of a run that started way back in late February as his team scratched and clawed its way into the Stanley Cup playoffs and upset the Boston Bruins, the No. 2 seed, in the first round.
“Well, it doesn’t matter what. We playing, playing and lose the game, but we never give up,” Ovechkin said. “Everybody support each other. Of course, you feel sometimes like somebody angry, but after that, it’s a hockey game. It’s emotions.”
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