There is something about a 5-1 score and the New Jersey Devils that just don't together this season.
New Jersey dropped its third game of the season by a 5-1 score Saturday when Alex Ovechkin came out of hiding to net a hat trick against Johan Hedberg in a Washington Capitals victory. New Jersey has lost similar 5-1 verdicts to the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders too this season.
Ovechkin, once the NHL's poster boy for goals and glamor, came into the game with just five goals in 16 games, a terrible start for a player who was once the most feared scorer in the NHL. Well, he feels a whole lot better after a three-goal, one-assist effort
“He had a great game,” Devils coach DeBoer said. “All I can tell you is we have to find a way to slow him down and stop him and we didn’t do that tonight.”
“He’s been getting a lot of chances,” said Capitals coach Adam Oates, the former New Jersey assistant. “He could have had a few (Thursday vs. the Devils). In New York (a 2-1 loss to the Rangers a week ago), he had 14 shots, which means that the guys he’s playing with and he are doing the right things. He’s getting opportunities. Good things happen sooner or later.”
Especially if you give Ovechkin room to roam, as the Devils did at Verizon Center Saturday afternoon. Let Ovechkin rev up and you're goalie is going to have a long day.
The first goal of the came came off Ovechkin's stick when he was left alone in the circle for a one-timer. Even though Ilya Kovalchuk tied it for New Jersey late in the second, Ovechkin got it going in the third as Washington scored four more times.
“He’s that kind of guy,” Kovalchuk told Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “He will always try his best. He’s not going to get a hat trick every game, but he will give his 110 percent. He’s one of the best players in the league and it’s fun to play against those guys.”
Try to sell the "fun" aspect to Hedberg, who also allowed a shorthanded goal to Eric Fehr that dropped the Devils into a 3-1 hole in the third.
“They got the breaks,” Hedberg said. “Ovechkin makes a great play and puts them up 2-1 and I mess up behind the net and it’s 3-1 and they get two power-play goals and they get all the momentum going. It was quick.”
And painful. The Devils are now a middling 2-3-1 in their last six games. Strong efforts continue to elude them, and they had best find some answers as their is no rest for the weary this season with the Winnipeg Jets due in Prudential Center Sunday.
“It’s a lot of games," Kovalchuk said. "A lot of nights we’re doing a lot of good things and we’ve been winning most of them. Some nights you’re going to maybe not be all there and the other team is there and it looks like it’s an uneven game and it’s really now. It’s 1-1 going into the third and they get all the breaks. But we’ve got to keep doing what we know works for us and no matter what the score is keep playing our game and try to work our way back.”
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