Alex Ovechkin heard the chants loud and clear.
”We want 50! We want 50!”
He didn’t need that extra encouragement. Ovechkin scored twice to finish with an NHL-leading 49 goals and played almost the final two minutes of the Washington Capitals‘ 5-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night in each team’s regular-season finale trying to reach 50 for the eighth time in his career.
The Russian superstar will have to settle for his seventh Maurice ”Rocket” Richard Trophy as the league’s top goal-scorer and hopes his recent run continues in the playoffs Authentic Ryan Jensen Jersey , where the Metropolitan Division-champion Capitals will open against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
”Effort was there, and you can see I’m ready for playoffs in pretty good shape,” Ovechkin said after a playing 6:04 of the final 8:10. ”Still have a pretty good chance at the end. It is what it is. Whatever. The most important thing ahead of us, and second season right now starts in a couple days.”
Washington won 12 of its final 15 games, and Ovechkin strengthened his Hart Trophy case with nine goals and six assists over that time. At 32, he’s the oldest player to lead the NHL in goals since Phil Esposito in 1974-75.
Ovechkin became the 13th player and first since Mike Gartner in 1990-91 to score exactly 49 goals in a season. His teammates did their best trying to get him to 50, and Ovechkin attempted 18 shots and got eight on net in pursuit of the milestone.
”We look for him a little bit more than usually, but I don’t know,” said center Evgeny Kuznetsov, who assisted on Ovechkin’s 48th goal to reach 56 for the season. ”I don’t think he’s sad about he didn’t get 50, but 49 is still a good number.”
Losing in regulation sends New Jersey to the Atlantic bracket in the Eastern Conference to face the division champion: either the Boston Bruins or Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s the Bruins if they beat Florida on Sunday night, and the Lightning if they don’t.
”We like our matchup against anybody,” Devils center Brian Boyle said. ”I think we match up well against anyone. We believe in what we got going on here. We earned the right to be in. It’s been a good season. The fun starts now.”
The Devils didn’t go all-out to try to move up in the standings Authentic Kyle Lauletta Jersey , resting MVP front-runner Taylor Hall, first-line winger Kyle Palmieri, top-six center Travis Zajac, No. 1 defenseman Sami Vatanen and starting goaltender Keith Kinkaid with an eye toward the playoffs. Trade-deadline pickup Patrick Maroon had a goal and two assists, and rookie Nico Hischier and Miles Wood each scored for New Jersey.
”There’s a reason that you got here,” coach John Hynes said. ”You have to have a strong identity, which we do. You have to be able to play to that.”
The Capitals’ identity is coming into focus as they go into the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season feeling good about their game. Nicklas Backstrom, Michal Kempny and Andre Burakovsky also scored against New Jersey, and Braden Holtby stopped 23 of the 26 shots in his final chance to show he deserves to be Washington’s Game 1 starting goaltender over Philipp Grubauer.
Holtby is 14-2-2 with a 2.62 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in his career against Columbus, which lost to Nashville in its final game while resting stars Artemi Panarin, Seth Jones and Zach Werenski and two-time Vezina Trophy-winning goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
”They’re a good young team and they have a great goaltender, but for me it doesn’t matter against who you play,” Kuznetsov said. ”It’s just like a fun time. You prepare all year for this moments.”
NOTES: The Capitals rested RW T.J. Oshie Dolphins Elite Jerseys , who has been dealing with a lower-body injury. C Jay Beagle missed his third consecutive game with an upper-body injury. … With the primary assist on Kempny’s goal, Capitals F Shane Gersich picked up his first NHL point in his third game. … Ovechkin, Capitals D Dmitry Orlov and John Carlson and Hischier played all 82 games this season.
Devils: Open at the Bruins or Lightning in their first playoff appearance since 2012.
Capitals: Host the Blue Jackets to start the first round.
After finishing his first draft as general manager of the New York Giants, Dave Gettleman got a laugh when asked his thoughts on his six picks.
With his heavy Boston accent, Gettleman said no GM is going to walk into a press room and tell the media he drafted garbage.
Garbage wasn’t the word he used, but the meaning was clear. He could have stretched the truth if he wanted, but it wasn’t necessary.
”I’m thrilled. We got big butts. We got power. We got speed,” said Gettleman who momentarily stopped to apologize for his choice of words. ”And we got a quarterback we really like. I am not angry.”
Coming off a 3-13 season that cost coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese their jobs, the Giants seemingly found value and filled need with every pick in the NFL draft that ended Saturday.
They feel they got the best player in the draft in Penn State running back Saquon Barkley with the second pick overall. They had a first-round grade on guard Will Hernandez of UTEP when they took him in the second round.
Edge rusher Lorenzo Carter of Georgia and defensive tackle B.J. Hill of North Carolina State had second-round grades when taken in the third round.
Quarterback Kyle Lauletta of Richmond and defensive tackle R.J. McIntosh of Miami were right where the Giants felt they would be in the fourth and fifth rounds, respectively.
The picks will create competition on a team that needs to be pushed by new coach Pat Shurmur.
Gettleman also knows the job of building a roster is far from over.
”It takes time,” he said. ”Folks, you have to understand that Rome was not built in a day. This is a brick-by-brick deal and at the end of the day we are going to keep making moves and shake up the back end of the roster until we get it right.”
ELI STILL THE ONE: The decision to grab Barkley and ignore the quartet of quarterbacks taken in the first 10 picks overall clearly shows the Giants think 37-year-old Eli Manning has good years left. Taking Lauletta in the fourth round also shows the team wants backup Davis Webb, the third-round pick last year Uchenna Nwosu Color Rush Jersey , to have competition in training camp.
THE BARKLEY FACTOR: Barkley should give the Giants their first legitimate home run threat out of the backfield in more than a decade. What makes him unique is he is a three-down player who runs with speed and power, and can catch passes. And in the NFL, opposing defenses can’t focus on him like in college. There’s Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and tight end Evan Engram to worry about.
”I think that’s why I was brought here, to bring an impact to the running game, to have that same domination that I had in college where a team wants to just shut me down, and then it just opens up everyone else,” said Barkley, who had 53 total touchdowns in three years with the Nittany Lions.
THE O-LINE: The offensive line will be dramatically different than the banged-up, inefficient unit that played last year. Hernandez should be able to start at one of the guard positions along with free agent signee Patrick Omameh. Fellow free agent Nate Solder is set at left tackle and Brett Jones returns at center. The only question mark is right tackle. Ereck Flowers has been asked to move from the left side to the right, but his status is uncertain; he has refused to take part in the voluntary offseason activities and minicamp.
NEVER ENOUGH: Gettleman is a believer in never having enough good players. The additions of Carter, Hill and McIntosh gives the Giants a dozen pass rushers when veterans Kareem Martin, Olivier Vernon Authentic Corey Perry Jersey , Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson, John Mauro, Romeo Okwara, Kerry Wynn, Robert Thomas and Avery Moss are added in. Should be an interesting camp.
STILL NEED: A big receiver is needed. Veteran Brandon Marshall was let go after failing his physical last week. New York has other guys who played last season, but no one combines height and speed that can stretch the field. The Giants could use one more inside linebacker for depth in the new 3-4 alignment. With Eli Apple coming off a bad season and Janoris Jenkins returning from ankle surgery, a cornerback would help.