WASHINGTON (AP) — Alex Ovechkin in addition to being the second-most prolific goal-scorer in NHL history in the regular season has throughout his career been a point-a-game producer in the playoffs, despite criticism that dogged him before winning the Stanley Cup in 2018.

For the first time, Ovechkin was held without a goal or an assist in a playoff series and had just five shots on net as he and the Washington Capitals were swept in the first round by the New York Rangers.

“I didn’t play well,” Ovechkin said after losing Game 4 on Sunday night. “I don’t have that kind of touches. I try to find a different way to put the puck in.”

None of it worked, either on the power play or at 5 on 5. His best chance came in Game 4 with the puck on his stick just outside the crease, but New York’s Vincent Trocheck poked it away and Ovechkin was not much of a threat the rest of the way.

“He’s been doing it for so long,” Trocheck said. “He’s arguably one of the best, if not the best, goal-scorers of all-time and you have to pay a little bit more attention to him on the penalty kill. And that can’t be easy for him. Obviously we’re extremely focused on him, so it’s no shot at him. He’s a great hockey player, and we’re just a little bit extra focused on him.”

That focus worked, even though Rangers winger Artemi Panarin said “it’s a secret” how he and his teammates shut down Ovechkin to move on to the second round. Suffocating defense made it difficult on the 38-year-old Russian superstar, and Igor Shesterkin didn’t have to do much on his own against his countryman.

“The defense was awesome,” Shesterkin said. “All four games, they play in front of him and didn’t let him do anything.”

Washington was back in the playoffs after missing last year, and with an aging core it’s not unrealistic to wonder if this might have been Ovechkin’s final chance to play in the postseason in the NHL.

“I hope I’m still going to get a couple chances,” he said.


AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL