SAN JOSE — Scoring machine Alexander Ovechkin has 171 goals for the Washington Capitals, but none more amazing than the one he scored while flat on his back, sliding across the ice and staring off into the opposite direction.
Sharks backup goalie Brian Boucher, unfortunately, remembers it too well. He was in the Phoenix Coyotes nets at the time.
"What are you going to do?" Boucher said good-naturedly Friday. "It was a one-in-a-million play."
Boucher and Ovechkin will challenge each other tonight for the first time since that Jan. 16, 2006, encounter. The Capitals are at HP Pavilion to face the red-hot Sharks, and San Jose coach Todd McLellan has decided he wants injured goalie Evgeni Nabokov to go through a few more practices before experiencing game conditions.
"Nabby's ready to play physically," McLellan said. "There's no doubt in my mind that we're erring on the cautious side, but that's the decision we made."
That means Boucher will be getting his seventh consecutive start since Nabokov was hurt making the final save in a Nov. 6 shootout victory over St. Louis. Boucher is 4-1-1 filling in since then.
Ovechkin's memorable goal was the final one in a 6-1 Washington victory.
It's a popular stop on YouTube, where one version of the clip has drawn more than a half-million viewings.
And, yes, Boucher acknowledges he's gone back for a closer look.
"At the time, I didn't realize how incredible the goal was," he said. "After seeing the replay, it's unreal."
It shows the Capitals left wing speeding into the zone through the right faceoff circle, then cutting through the slot. Coyote defenseman Paul Mara knocks him off his skates, but as Ovechkin slides through the lower part of the left faceoff circle, he manages to direct the puck through the narrow gap between the near goal post and Boucher's extended stick.
"That was an unbelievable play. And the angle he had to put it in — he had this much room," Boucher said, holding two forefingers about four inches apart. "I couldn't believe how far I had to keep moving and I still didn't get it."
The previous game was disastrous for Caps and Ovechkin who was -4. Caps lost 2:5 to LA Kings. Boudreau called the Caps' effort in the first period "unacceptable" and Alex Ovechkin said it was the worst period of the season. They were out-shot 12-3 in the opening 20 minutes.
Ovechkin's post game locker room interview.
Ovechkin's five game goal streak came to an end. He appeared to get kicked in the ear when he upended Dustin Brown late in the game. Ovechkin was given a smelling salts in the penalty box, but seemed to be fine after the game.
The Sharks are one of three teams Alex Ovechkin has never scored against (Los Angeles and Minnesota are the others). Ovechkin has at least one point in six straight games and entered last night tied for seventh in scoring (23 points) after getting off to a slow start.
By Mike G. Morreale, NHL.com Staff Writer, Nov. 22, 2008:
The 53-year-old coach, who celebrates his one-year anniversary with the Capitals Saturday with a visit to San Jose, has coached 80 NHL games. His 48-22-10 record over that stretch would put him on a 110-point pace for a full season. Washington's 11-5-3 mark through 19 games in 2008-09 has the club 12 points ahead of their pace at the same point last season (6-12-1).
"We preach defense, but its pressure defense and when you've got good teams without the puck, you just want them to be responsible and do their job," he said. "When we have the puck, I'm not telling Alex Ovechkin to deke out two guys and make one pass. He has God-given abilities that are far beyond those of a lot of people. I mean (Alexander) Semin and Ovechkin can be as creative as they want as long as they play within the parameters of a team game. Without the puck, we have to play and know what we're doing."
After dropping a seven-game series to the Flyers in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, Boudreau's mantra entering the 2008-09 was "Good is not good enough."
Happy anniversary, Coach! Hopefully Caps will rebound tonight, they are always play better against a better team.
Go Caps! Go, Ovechkin, go, go Ovechkin!
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