If Alex had have put that one in on the breakaway, who knows?” — Bruce Boudreau, then-coach of the Washington Capitals, May 14, 2009.
“If I score first goal, maybe a different game. I didn’t score it.” — Ovechkin, same day.
Before Game 7 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals in 2009, one of Sidney Crosby’s teammates walked up to Crosby and told him, “You were born for this.” After Crosby had scored two goals in a 6-2 win, Mario Lemieux waited until the reporters were gone and said to Crosby, “Kid, très bon.” Ovechkin, Crosby’s foil and rival, scored Washington’s only goal, but he was stopped on an early breakaway when the game was still scoreless, and walked away with regrets.
Now Ovechkin is back on the brink of what is, to him, an undiscovered country — the conference final, which Washington could reach with a Game 7 victory over the New York Rangers on Saturday night. He has become the league’s greatest puzzle since the duel in 2009, and his team has drifted: a seven-game loss to eighth-seeded Montreal in 2010, a second-round sweep by Tampa Bay last season, the seventh seed this season. And now, another chance, on Broadway.