Ovechkin Hurt in Capitals Loss

Columbus
Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger ended Sunday’s game against the Washington
Capitals by tapping in a pass from Rick Nash in overtime, but the implications
of the game extend much further than a 5-4 game in November. By the time the
game ended, Alexander Ovechkin, the Capitals’ leading scorer and reigning back-to-back MVP, was already in the locker room, nursing an injury he suffered midway
through the second period.

The injury occurred shortly after a
post-whistle scrum with Blue Jackets forward Jason Chimera. Ovechkin was
skating to his bench when Chimera, who Ovechkin hit hard in the first period, bumped him. Ovechkin shoved
back, and the other players on the ice converged and began shoving. Ovechkin and
Chimera were given matching roughing penalties, and the Caps superstar appeared to be
favoring his left shoulder as he skated to the box. 

When he left the penalty box and finished his shift, he
collided with Blue Jackets forward Raffi Torres and used his left arm to brace
the fall. He got up and immediately skated to the bench and never returned to
the game.

“It was just a moment of the game.
Nothing happened. [Jason Chimera] hit me, I hit him,” said Ovechkin, who was not wearing a sling after the game. “It was a little battle over there but nothing happen. I can’t tell you
how I got hurt. It’s day to day, but just in case I didn’t go back on the
ice.”

After the game, head coach Bruce
Boudreau said Ovechkin’s injury was an “upper body injury” and agreed that the injury was day-to-day.

With
Ovechkin out of the lineup, the game became a shootout. At the time of the
injury, the two teams were tied at one.

With 59 seconds left in the second
period, however, Umberger gave Columbus the lead
with a goal after an odd bounce off the boards. Rick Nash dumped the puck in
and as Capitals goaltender Jose Theodore went to play it, it hit a rut in the
boards, and bounced right to Umberger in the slot, who put it into the empty
net.

The
third period opened up with chances for both teams, but the Capitals took over
the momentum when Mike Knuble single-handedly killed off a penalty by pinning the puck to the boards in the Blue Jackets’ zone.

The effort ignited the team and the crowd, who was quieted by the score and the fact that the leading scorer was out with an injury.

“It can
either go one of two ways. You can either say ‘woe is me, our best player is
out,’ or you can say, ‘pull together and get the job done,’” forward Brooks Laich said.

It was
Laich who tied the game on the power play by slapping in a rebound off a
Tom Poti slapshot. Two minutes later, Laich would give the Caps a 3-2 lead by
beating Columbus goaltender Steve Mason with a wrist shot from the slot.

The
Blue Jackets fought bac, however, and tied the game three minutes later with a
wraparound goal by Raffi Torres that brought load groans from the 18,277 at Verizon Center.

The Capitals would tie the game with a goal by the unlikeliest scorer on the team. Forward Quintin Laing, who had missed the previous three games with swine flu and hadn’t scored since 2007. He appeared to be the hero, though, when he gave the Capitals a 4-3 lead with less than four minutes remaining.

But
with 22.4 seconds left, Torres crashed the party and scored his second goal of the game on a tip-in
on the power play. The two teams headed to overtime.

Just 1:33 into the extra session,
Capitals defenseman Brian Pothier was called for interference following a rush.
Twelve seconds into the ensuing power play, Umberger sent the Capitals home with
a loss by putting in a pass by Nash right outside the crease.

Now, not only does the team have to
respond to a difficult loss, but it leaves them wondering the severity of their
leading scorer’s injury.  If he is out
for an extended period of time, other players will have to carry the load for a team that has relied on Ovechkin for so much.

“He’s
the best player in the game, so everybody has to step up and fill the hole for
him,” said Tomas Fleischmann, who set up the first goal of the game with a great passing play. “We’ll
see how it works and it’s just a great opportunity for other guys.”

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