'Struggling' Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is hoping patience pays off soon against the Rangers

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — Alex Ovechkin has just one shot on goal through the first two games of the Washington Capitals' first-round playoff series against the New York Rangers, which they trail 2-0.

Coach Spencer Carbery acknowledged after the Game 2 loss this week that Ovechkin is “struggling” and looks a bit off. The Capitals need production out of the No. 2 goal-scorer in NHL history, among other things, to get back in the series against the league's best team from the regular season. Game 3 is at home Friday night.

“I think it's just settle down a little bit,” Ovechkin said Thursday. "Not good, but sometimes you just have to do what you can do out there: play physical, try to create open space for your linemates. But we’re all in the same boat. We all have to play better if we want to get success.”

Ovechkin's lowest shot total through the first two games of a series before now was four (2012 vs. Boston) and five in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final against Vegas. Washington went on to win each series.

The 38-year-old longtime captain and face of the franchise said patience is the key to getting more pucks on net against fellow Russian Igor Shesterkin, who has stopped 42 of the 46 shots he has faced so far.

"Try to find the lane," Ovechkin said. “We play against a good hockey team. They’re going to sacrifice their body. They’re going to play hard against our top lines, blocking shots, (be) physical, and we just have to play simple and if we have the puck on our stick don’t throw it right away.”

Carbery said he and Ovechkin have had some good discussions about how to get through defenders and be closer to the net for higher-quality opportunities and “attacking as much as he can.”

“That’s not necessarily from the perimeter — getting to the inside, taking a couple extra steps, threaten, change your shot angle," Carbery said. “And now you’ve changed your shot angle and now there’s no longer shin pads and a stick in your lane.”

Getting Ovechkin the puck in better positions to shoot is also on the Capitals' to-do list. It can pay dividends, after he scored just eight goals in his first 43 games this season and finished with 31 after a torrid second half.

Teammates and coaches aren’t worried about Ovechkin and expect him to be able to turn it on. He has 853 goals in the regular season trailing just Wayne Gretzky and 72 in the playoffs, one shy of Dallas Stars forward Joe Pavelski for the most among active players.

“He’ll be good," Carbery said. "He’s been through so many situations like this, I expect him to step up big time in Game 3.”

___

AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL