It was Crosby who helped eliminate Russia in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, then scored the overtime goal that secured a gold medal for Canada. It was Crosby who won gold four years later in Sochi, in Ovechkin’s homeland, as the Russians crashed out. It was Crosby who won three Stanley Cups, ousting Ovechkin each time.
“If Ovi played for the Los Angeles Kings this whole time, he’d get his due,” said Rupp, who played with Crosby on the Penguins. “But he’s playing for Pittsburgh’s rival and Pittsburgh would win every year. It’s almost like he gets labeled that he doesn’t know how to do it.”
It was Crosby, too, who was surrounded by a more complete and cohesive team — one with a stronger will. When the Capitals finished with the league’s best record in 2016 and 2017, high expectations grounded them. Pressure seeped into the locker room, defenseman Brooks Orpik said, and players felt it.
“But now he’s got horses that are galloping with him,” Weekes said of Ovechkin. “Now, the cavalry’s there.”
The Capitals have seven players with more than 10 points this postseason, and all but one (Lars Eller) contributed Monday. When Ovechkin trudged into Washington’s locker room afterward, he was still breathing hard, drained by the relentless pace. The Capitals’ public relations staff halted the interview after 2 minutes 38 seconds, but not before Ovechkin said he expected the Capitals to rebound, expressing confidence that they would.
As he spoke, Ovechkin’s face carried a hint of a scowl, much as it did with about 7 minutes left in the first, when a wayward puck banged him in the nose off his visor. Ovechkin, standing at the end of Washington’s bench, hardly flinched. Battered but unbowed, no closer to a Cup than he was when the day dawned, he gets another chance on Wednesday.