Penguins notebook: Ovechkin stumped by his struggles
WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin cannot figure it out.
Not the reason his Washington Capitals are struggling with two wins in nine games. Not his personal struggles while adjusting to life as a right winger after spending seven previous NHL seasons on the left side.
What Ovechkin, a two-time MVP, cannot fathom is why so many players who spent the lockout in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League — considered the second-best league — are failing to dominate this season.
“Maybe it's just different hockey, different size of (the) ice, but it's kind of surprising because you can see lots of guys have lots of points and goals, and I'm standing here with only (four) points,” Ovechkin said Sunday before the Capitals' 6-3 loss to the Penguins at Verizon Center. “It's embarrassing.”
Entering Sunday, Detroit center Pavel Datsyuk had the most points (10 in eight games) of those who played in the KHL.
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, the KHL's second-leading scorer when he returned from Metallurg Magnitogorsk, recorded two assists against the Capitals and has 12 points in nine games. He said adjusting to the smaller NHL rink surfaces is more difficult than anticipated.
“In Russia, you have a puck in the corner, (and) you know you have room to make something,” Ovechkin said. “Behind the net is the same. Here, everything is smaller, faster. It's kind of different.”
• Capitals veteran defenseman Tom Poti replaced John Erskine, who served the first game of a three-game suspension. The Penguins made no lineup changes following a win Saturday against New Jersey.
• The Penguins went 2 for 3 on the power play at Washington and are 3 for 12 (25 percent) on their three-game winning streak. They were 1 for 14 (7.1 percent) in losing three of four games from Jan. 23-29.
• Goalie Tomas Vokoun, on the bad-bounce goal in the second period at Washington: “(It happened) once, in Chicago about 12 years ago, and I remember it really good. They're rare, but it happens. Thankfully we won. That game in Chicago we lost. This doesn't feel as bad.”
— Rob Rossi