Stanley Cup Playoffs 2019: Alex Ovechkin's slashing vs. Hurricanes continues his rivalry with 'bunch of jerks'

The Hurricanes forced a Game 7 against the Capitals with Monday's win. The winner-take-all match in Washington is going to have some extra meaning to Alex Ovechkin. Not only are the Capitals trying to avoid a first-round exit just a year after winning the team's first Stanley Cup, but Ovechkin has been getting into some uncharacteristic scraps with this Hurricanes team.

Ovechkin, who is known for his ability to lay down hits but not as an overly aggressive player, has developed a bit of an attitude against a Carolina team that has dubbed itself a "bunch of jerks." Fans have really rallied behind the Hurricanes' monicker as PNC Arena has proven to be an incredibly hostile environment.

This was PNC Arena before Game 3, and it's been like this all series.

In that Game 3, Ovechkin found himself provoked by the Hurricanes' Andrei Svechnikov. It was the first postseason fight for Ovechkin and only the third scrap in his NHL career. It did not go well for Svechnikov. Maybe because Ovechkin is 14 years older and 40 pounds heavier.

Svechnikov, according to The Athletic, didn't ask for that fight either. It was actually Ovechkin who incited that fight, and the youngster was defending himself (or at least trying to). He missed the rest of that game with a head injury sustained from hitting the ice after an Ovechkin punch.

Ovechkin didn't really get into any trouble in Game 4, but in Game 6 his attitude reared its head again. In a 3-2 game, he scored what he thought was his second goal of the game. It would have been his fourth in three games and the equalizer about halfway through the third period. But the goal was ultimately waved off when it was determined on the ice (and upheld by replay) that Petr Mrazek's pad was forced into the net. Ovechkin came apart at the seams for the rest of the night, and was caught yelling "that's f------ bulls---" from the Capitals bench immediately after replay confirmed the call.

With 1:08 left in the game, Ovechkin took a silly slashing penalty with the Capitals down 5-2. He was subsequently ejected for sarcastically applauding the call.

This is exactly the type of hockey the Hurricanes want to play, and they feed off of their fans' energy. All of this is far outside of the realm of what's normal for Ovechkin, who has still been very good this series. However, he's being forced into making uncharacteristic mistakes. Perhaps it's the pressure of defending the Cup or maybe it's just the venue, but whatever it is, PNC Arena has become a house of horrors for Ovechkin and the Caps. Even the Penguins don't get them this riled up.

Luckily for Washington, Game 7 is played in the friendly confines of Capital One Arena. The home team has won every game this series. 

The Capitals need Ovechkin at his best on Wednesday. If he is not, Washington may become the latest team to let a wild card advance.

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