WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals entered Thursday's game against the Dallas Stars on the verge of history, as the captain had the chance to tie — and possibly pass — Gordie Howe for second on the NHL's all-time goals list. The Stars were well aware of that, and didn't want to see themselves in that highlight package.
That in itself was a motivator for Jake Oettinger and Dallas, who shut down Ovechkin en route to a low-scoring 2-1 win.
"Pete said before that these next two goals that he's gonna score, the whole team's gonna come off the bench," Oettinger said. "So obviously, I don't want that to happen, not against us. He can do that stuff another night."
DeBoer's message was heard through the room, and the team went to work. Washington's power play, which had goals in seven straight games going into Thursday, went 0-for-2 against the third-best penalty kill in the NHL.
READ MORE ON WHN: Takeaways From Washington Capitals 2-1 Loss To Dallas Stars
Ovechkin led with five shots, but just couldn't solve a red-hot Oettinger, who stopped 44 of 45 shots as the Capitals dominated offensively. He did have one assist in the win that came off a fake one-timer pass to Conor Sheary.
"Nobody wants to be part of history that way," DeBoer added. "And for sure Jake doesn't want to be that guy on the highlight reel 50 years from now being scored on in that situation. I think it was a little bit of motivation for us to try to shut him down."
After stopping Ovechkin from making history, the Stars had nothing but good things to say about the Russian, who hit 800 goals with a hat trick back on Thursday.
"It's always fun playing one of the best to ever do it," Oettinger said. "It was a fun challenge, and we stepped up."
As for Washington, T.J. Oshie and the team know that it's just a matter of time before Ovechkin hits the mark.
"He’s gonna get it," Oshie smiled postgame. "You guys just have to follow us around for a little longer.”