NEW YORK, May 8 (Reuters) - Alex Ovechkin almost has it all but not quite. A multi-millionaire with a mountain of individual awards, his feats on the ice leave no doubt about his greatness as a hockey player.
The rewards and plaudits for his achievements have been flowing for years and the Russian already has the keys to the United States capital, Washington DC, an honour he received in 2008 when he won the first of his two National Hockey League MVP awards.
He is a five-time NHL All-Star and three-time winner of the NHL’s goalscoring title, including this season, and sporting success just seems to follow him everywhere.
His mother won two Olympic gold medals in basketball for the Soviet Union and he is engaged to marry professional tennis player, Maria Kirilenko, who won a bronze medal in doubles at the London Olympics last year.
But for all his personal achievements, there are two glaring omissions from Ovechkin’s CV. Unlike his mother and his fiancee, the 27-year-old has never won an Olympic gold medal, nor the Stanley Cup, hockey’s holy grail.
For now, the Olympics will have to wait, at least until next year when Sochi hosts the Winter Games. The NHL is still negotiating with the IOC about whether it will let its players compete. Ovechkin insists he is going anyway.
Winning the Stanley Cup is a more pressing matter. Ovechkin’s Washington Capitals are through to the playoffs for the sixth season in a row but the road ahead is littered with bumps and already looking treacherous.
After winning their first two games in the Eastern Conference quarter-final with the New York Rangers, the series is suddenly tied at 2-2.
The Rangers won Wednesday’s fourth game 4-3 at Madison Square Garden.
New York led 1-0 at the end of the first period then 2-0 in the second. The Caps tied the game at 2-2 when Mathieu Perreault and Troy Brouwer both scored in the second.
But the Rangers regained control in the third with Dan Giradi’s power-play goal in the first minute then Derek Stepan’s insurance goal shortly after.
Karl Alzer pulled Washington to within a goal but the Caps ran out of time and luck, leaving Ovechkin still with a chance but no closer yet to accomplishing at least one of his missing goals.
“I think I really have to play better,” said Ovechkin, a lethal sniper who scored 32 goals in the shortened regular season, but was not among the scorers on Wednesday.
“They just put the puck in our net and made it a physical game. We knew it was going to be like that.”
Ovechkin’s team mate, goaltender Braden Holtby, said the Caps still had a great chance to win and advance to the semi-finals.
“It’s a three-game series now,” said Holtby, who made 30 saves. “And we still have home ice advantage.” (Editing by Ian Ransom)