Ovechkin appears to have come to the conclusion that fair or not, his legacy is going affected by his team's playoffs successes and failures. Just like in years past the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals will meet in the second round. But here they were, within sniffing distance of catching the Capitals, not just 3-3 on the scoreboard but possibly 3-3 in a series full of overtime games.
So, how did Washington turn a potential early exit into a trip to the second round?
The Capitals went ahead 1-0 at 12:12 in the first frame after Dmitry Orlov beat Sergei Bobrovsky between the pipes. Both set franchise scoring records for defensemen with 16 goals apiece. But the headline-grabber wasn't Ovechkin. However, in the second period, Alex Ovechkin scored twice answering the Blue Jackets first score in the middle of the period.
You have to give credit to Washington they played well. His performance had shifted the offensive tide. Over Games 4, 5 and 6, Panarin mustered just seven shots in almost 74 minutes of ice time, was knocked around more often and failed to find the scoresheet. But the momentum quickly faded, and after Columbus lost in double-overtime in game 3, it was all downhill.
"It's all about team", Ovechkin said. Artemi Panarin (seven points), Pierre-Luc Dubois (four points) and Cam Atkinson (four points) combined to have 15 points and 46 shots on goal in six games. While the Pens captain is heavily decorated and has won everything conceivable in his hockey career, Ovechkin hasn't seen Round 3 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs yet.
The Jackets were unable to string two goals together and couldn't get themselves a lead. They are likely to play Washington or Pittsburgh in the playoffs and both those sides are strong. The Pens have won nine of the past 10 series. Reason being is that despite being a two-time Vezina Trophy-winning netminder, despite having a.922 save percentage - the second-best mark - of the 80 netminders to suit up in 100-plus games since the lockout-shortened season, Bobrovsky has had trouble getting the job done in the playoffs.More news: Trump touted hiring Giuliani as 'hiring America's f---ing mayor'
Of course, none of it matters once the puck drops in Game 1.
The Capitals will next face Pittsburgh in the second round of the playoffs for a third straight year. Two goals and four points in the first three games. "You don't know how it's going to go this time". No problem wearing that. They were an impressive regular season team, finishing hot down the stretch. Frankly, it seemed like a relative no-brainer to go with Grubauer. The former All-Star was the team's leading scorer last season but missed 17 games because of injury this time and never found his mojo. He led the Caps with five goals, including two in the clinching Game 6.
Mitch Marner continues to make a difference in the postseason. They took advantage of their chances, especially on the power play. Sure it's only the first round, but Columbus is the only franchise in the National Hockey League that has yet to make it past round one.
This is old hat for Holtby, of course, and maybe this was an instance where history shouldn't have been ignored.
As for this game it was disappointing as the Jackets played really well but couldn't score.