Alexander Ovechkin finally responded to head coach Adam Oates’ remarks that the Washington Capitals captain quit on Dustin Jeffrey’s goal during Tuesday’s 5-0 loss to the Dallas Stars.
Ovechkin told NHL.com’s Dan Rosen on Friday that he hasn’t discussed the matter with Oates and he believes the entire team quit on that goal.
"Of course I get the blame from it, but in that moment I think everybody quit the play," Ovechkin said.—
Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) April 04, 2014
Here’s the play in question:
Ovechkin lost Stars forward Ray Whitney on a back check during the third period and didn’t show any effort to catch up to the Dallas forward as he skated toward the Washington net. Whitney ended up with the primary assist on Jeffrey’s goal, which gave the Stars a commanding 4-0 lead in a game the Capitals desperately needed to win to stay in the playoff race.
“Ovi quit on the play coming back,” Oates said, per Katie Carrera of The Washington Post. “Whitney forced (the play) down the ice and just goes to show you you’ve got to hustle the entire time, the whole entire time.”
It was a pathetic defensive performance from a player who has an embarrassing minus-36 rating.
One of the reasons why this is a genuine concern for the Capitals is because Ovechkin has done this before. In a first-round playoff game against the New York Rangers last season, he made no attempt to follow Derek Stepan, who crashed the net and scored the game-winning goal.