Alex Ovechkin celebrates his third-period goal against the Florida Panthers last Saturday, one of two goals that he has scored right off the faceoff in the past week.
So far this season, the Washington Capitals have struggled in the faceoff circle, but during their three-game winning streak, they have improved, winning 57.7% (105/182) of their draws. As a result, Washington's overall faceoff percentage has jumped from 25th in the NHL at 47.5% last Monday to 18th and 49.5% Sunday.
That recent success has also helped the Capitals in the goal-scoring department; since last Saturday's 5-0 win over the Florida Panthers, they have scored three goals directly off the draw.
First, there was Alex Ovechkin's first even-strength goal of the season during the third period last weekend:
Then there was Karl Alzner's first goal of the season during Tuesday's 6-5 overtime win over Florida:
Finally, there was Ovechkin's game-tying goal in the third period Tuesday that sent the game to overtime:
So what goes into these goals? Is it purely happenstance as Ovechkin explained Saturday?
"It just happens," Ovechkin said. "I want to make a play out there. If I have the opportunity to take a shot, why not?"
Or is it a designed play as Alzner detailed?
"Every single year of my career, I've always lined up right at the blue line in case the puck comes back, I have an extra second to get over to it and stop it," he said. "But this year, Oatesy [head coach Adam Oates] said he wants us up tight so that if we do get the puck, it's a quick shot, don't give guys time to get position."
The answer, according to Oates at least, is "a little of both." .
"When you take a faceoff, you obviously you want the puck, but you want to be in good positions if you don't get the puck," Oates said. "Centers are good, it's hard. We got scored on in Pittsburgh by it. We talk about faceoffs every day because it's such an important part of the game."
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