BALLSTON, Va. - Less than one day after he was benched at the end of the Washington Capitals' 5-4 overtime win over the Anaheim Ducks, forward Alex Ovechkin admitted that while he was "pissed off" at the time, he understood head coach Bruce Boudreau's decision.
"Well, I was pissed off," Ovechkin said. "Of course I wanted to be in the situation on the ice."
Boudreau decided to leave Ovechkin on the bench in the waning moments of Tuesday's game. With about a minute left in the third period and the Caps down 4-3, Boudreau elected to send Nicklas Backstrom, Jason Chimera, Joel Ward, Brooks Laich, John Carlson and Dennis Wideman on the ice instead of Ovechkin. Much has been made about what happened before the play when Ovechkin apparently cursed in Boudreau's direction upon hearing the news.
"It doesn't matter who I said it and what I said," Ovechkin said. "It looked funny on TV. I don't know. It's right now big story. It's just a little bit frustrating because I'm a leader on the team and I want to be on that kind of responsibility. Bruce put Brooks' line and it worked."
Boudreau said after practice Wednesday that he did not see or hear Ovechkin's cursing, but he stuck by his decision to put the third line on the ice.
"You don't have that much time to think," Boudreau said of game-time decisions. "Like I said last night, I was playing a hunch. That line was going so good. Everytime they were on the ice, they had the puck in their zone. I just thought they were going to score. I played a lot of hunches in my time that haven't worked, but nobody's asked me about them. This one worked."
Boudreau said that he and Ovechkin haven't spoken about the incident, but based on Wednesday's practice and the comments both parties made, the issue is dead.
"It's good for the team," Ovechkin said. "I have to respond for it. It's one team and it doesn't matter how good you are or who you are. If you want to win, you have to be on the same page. Everybody."