Hats Off to Ovi –Alex Ovechkin recorded his second hat trick of the season, the seventh of his career and the second of his career against Ottawa on Sunday to pace the Caps to a 7-4 victory over the Senators at Verizon Center. The hat trick put Ovechkin within a goal of 200 for his NHL career.
Now in his fourth NHL season, Ovechkin is on the verge of becoming just the fourth player in league history to reach the 200-goal plateau before the conclusion of his fourth season in the circuit.
Wayne Gretzky (269 goals after four seasons), Mike Bossy (241) and Mario Lemieux (215) are the only three previous NHL players to reach the 200 mark within their first four seasons in the league.
Ovechkin’s seven hat tricks place him seven on Washington’s all-time list behind Peter Bondra (19), Mike Gartner (13) and Dennis Maruk (10).
“He’s the star of the league,” said Ottawa coach Craig Hartsburg after today’s game. “People pay a lot of money to come watch him play and he performs every night. He’s certainly worth the price of admission; not for the other team, he isn’t, but certainly for the fans.”
Money is Green And Green Is Money -- Mike Green had a four-point game (one goal, three assists) on Sunday against the Sens, establishing a single-game career best for points in a game.
Green now has 40 points in just 38 games this season. At the moment, he is atop a logjam of defensemen and leads NHL blueliners in scoring. Right behind Green are Montreal’s Andrei Markov (39), San Jose’s Dan Boyle (38), the Islanders’ Mark Streit (37) and Detroit’s Brian Rafalski and Anaheim’s Scott Niedermayer (36 each).
No defenseman who spent the entire season in Washington has ever had sole possession of the scoring lead among blueliners at the end of an NHL season.
In 1986-87, Caps defenseman Larry Murphy (81 points) finished a distant second to Boston’s Raymond Bourque (95) in scoring among all NHL defensemen. In 2001-02, the Caps’ Sergei Gonchar tied Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom for the lead among NHL blueliners with 59 points. A season later, Gonchar’s 67 points was one behind St. Louis’ Al MacInnis (68) for the league lead among defensemen. And in 2003-04, Gonchar led the NHL in scoring among defensemen with 58 points. Gonchar started 2003-04 with Washington but was dealt to the Boston Bruins late in the season and did not complete the campaign with the Caps.
Green had five three-point games before reaching four here on Sunday afternoon against Ottawa.
Diminishing Returns – The Capitals needed all of three seconds to score a goal on their first power play chance on Sunday afternoon. Caps center Nicklas Backstrom won the draw back to Green, who fired home his 11th power play goal of the season. Green now trails Scott Stevens (16 power play goals in 1984-85) for the single-season Washington record for power play goals by a defenseman.
On the Caps’ next power play chance later in the first period, Washington center Sergei Fedorov won the draw back to Green at the point. Green quickly walked the puck to the middle of the ice before feeding Ovechkin for a one-timer that put the Caps ahead to stay at 2-1. This time, the Caps needed four seconds of power play time to light the lamp.
With two goals on two shots in seven seconds of extra-man time on two power plays, the Caps had nowhere but down to go. They went 0-for-3 with the extra man the rest of the day.
An Even Dozen – Sunday’s win was the 12th of the season for Caps goaltender Brent Johnson. It was his first start since Jan. 10 and his first win in exactly a month. Johnson’s last win came by an identical 7-4 score over the Tampa Bay Lightning at Verizon Center on Jan. 1.
“He made the big save at the big time,” says Boudreau of Johnson. “That’s all we care about. It was 4-2 and [Jason] Spezza broke in on the power play and made that big save right then and that tells me that you’ve got a big league goalie.”
No. 4 With A Bullet – Ovechkins’ first period goal was the 197th of his NHL career, putting him one ahead of Bengt Gustafsson (196) for fourth place on the Capitals’ all-time list. He now trails only Peter Bondra (473), Mike Gartner (397) and Mike Ridley (218) on the team’s all-time list. Ovechkin may be able to take Ridley down between now and season’s end.
Go Ahead, Alex – Ovechkin’s first period power play goal was his 12th goa-ahead goal of the season, putting him one behind Philadelphia’s Jeff Carter (13) for the league lead in that department.
With two even-strength goals on the day, Ovechkin retook the league lead with 23. New Jersey’s Zach Parise is second with 21.
Ovi added to his league-leading total with his 11th multiple-goal game of the season. Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek is second with seven.
Super Bowl Strike – Green’s long bomb pass to Alexander Semin was an inadvertent homage to football’s biggest day on Super Bowl Sunday. Green lofted a looping pass over two zones and a handful of players to hit a streaking Semin in stride at the Ottawa line.
Semin did the rest, putting a move on Ottawa goaltender Alex Auld and roofing a nifty backhander.
“Everyone sees Semin a step ahead and I couldn’t make a pass through those guys,” recounted Green. “He picked it up great because it was bouncing and made a great goal. It’s a credit to him.”
Dirty Work –Eric Fehr has played two straight solid games since being reinserted in the lineup this weekend. He fired five shots on goal in just 9:35 of work against Detroit on Sunday. He launched three shots in 11:05 of ice time on Sunday, and managed to score his fourth goal of the season and first since Dec. 4.
Fehr has always featured a strong shot and a quick release, and he has been a prolific goal scorer at every level up to the NHL. His goal on Sunday was a “dirty” one, the result of a lot of hard work in front of the net. He swept the goal into the net while lying prone on the ice and followed it in.
“I’ve been squeezing the stick a little bit,” admitted Fehr afterwareds. “I’ve been getting so many shots on goal and they just haven’t been going in. It’s kind of ironic that the one chance that really wasn’t a chance went in.”
CapKiller900 – Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson netted a pair of goals on Sunday in his 900th career NHL game. A longtime Cap killer, the Sens captain now has 31 goals and 55 points in just 47 career games against Washington.
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