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Carbery encouraged by Ovi's scoring resurgence: 'We need him'

Patrick Smith / Getty Images Sport / Getty

With Alex Ovechkin on a five-game goal streak, few are more excited about the Washington Capitals captain's scoring resurgence than head coach Spencer Carbery.

"He's playing at a real high level. I feel like he's even skating a little bit more," the bench boss said after Sunday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks. "I feel like there's a little bit more jump in his step. ... That's a positive step because we need him.

"It's well-documented, our production issues, so for him to get going ... these are positive things. You can feel him gaining more confidence as each one goes in and as he gets on a little bit of a roll."

The Capitals, who are currently six points out of a wild-card spot, rank 30th in goals per game (2.37), ahead of only the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks.

Ovechkin last lit the lamp in five straight games in March 2021. His tally against the Canucks wasn't pretty - his pass attempt went off a defender in front of the net - but Ovechkin isn't picky about how he's scoring.

"I think the puck goes in, it's a good thing," he said.

Ovechkin had scored just eight times in 43 games while being handcuffed by a 5.4% shooting percentage prior to his current run, though he'd racked up 16.1 individual expected goals over that span, per Natural Stat Trick. During his past five games, he's rocked a shooting percentage of 25%.

"It's nice to see the big man rolling," teammate T. J. Oshie said. "Obviously, he's a hard guy to stop."

Oshie believes Ovechkin's hot streak has been bolstered by a renewed commitment to two-way play.

"He's doing a lot of little things really well that I think are helping us out defensively that are leading to offense and odd-man rushes for him," he explained. "He's coming back in the D-zone and stopping in a good area. ... Honestly, it's the stuff he's doing away from the puck that's letting his natural, phenomenal ability take over and start putting some points on the board."

Carbery "wholeheartedly" agreed with Oshie's assessment.

"He's completely engaged and trying to find ways that he can be in good position and asking questions," Carbery said. "You can see the effort and him trying to do the right things."

Ovechkin can extend his goal streak Tuesday against the Colorado Avalanche. He's 60 tallies away from overtaking Wayne Gretzky on the all-time list.

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