Ovechkin’s hat trick carries Capitals

WASHINGTON (Ticker) — After admitting he was “sleepy” for
Saturday’s matinee against Detroit, Alex Ovechkin was ready for
the Washington Capitals’ second straight game with a 12:30 p.m.
starting time.

The reigning Hart Trophy winner recorded his seventh career hat
trick and second of the season Sunday, powering the Capitals to
a 7-4 victory over the Ottawa Senators.

“I go to bed really early, like 8 (p.m.) and wake up again at
6:30 (a.m.),” he said. “I kind of feel pretty good today.”

Ovechkin, who increased his NHL-leading goal total to 36, has
scored five goals in the last two games. He tallied twice in
the third period of Saturday’s 4-2 win over the Red Wings.

“You could tell that his shot was on today,” Capitals coach
Bruce Boudreau said. “He was just on, he could have had a couple

Still, like most hockey players, Ovechkin admitted that he is
not an early riser.

When asked if he likes getting up early, Ovechkin tersely
answered, “No!”

The good news for Ovechkin is that there aren’t any more 12:30
p.m. games left this season for the Capitals. Washington has one
game at 1 p.m. and four at 3 p.m. remaining on its schedule.

“He can hate anything,” Boudreau said.

The dynamic superstar is nearing a milestone as his next goal
will be the 200th of his career.

“That’s going to be a minuscule milestone,” Boudreau said. “He’s
going to get (to 300, 400 and 500 career goals) and maybe more.”

While Ovechkin seems headed for his third 50-goal season in four
years in the NHL, he is slightly off last season’s pace when he
scored a career-high 65.

“I think it was about this time last year he started to get into
a pretty good groove and started to kind of take over,” Boudreau
said. “Hopefully, he’s about to do the same thing.”

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A year ago, Ovechkin entered February with 43 goals after
scoring four times, including the overtime winner, in a 5-4
victory over Montreal on January 31.

Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson opened the scoring with the
first of his two goals 3:31 into the contest, but the Capitals
responded with four straight, including two by Ovechkin, who
completed his hat trick with 4:29 left in the second to make it

“He’s the star of the league,” Senators coach Craig Hartsburg
said. “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, but certainly for the fans.”

Defenseman Mike Green scored on the power play 9:43 into the
first to get Washington even and Ovechkin registered his first
49 seconds later to give the Capitals the lead for good.

Green, who leads NHL blue-liners with 15 goals and had three
assists Sunday, was amazed when he heard of Ovechkin’s dislike
for matinees – especially Ovechkin registered five points in the
back-to-back contests.

“He hates them?” Green said. “I don’t know how many points he’s
got in two games, so I don’t know how he can hate them.”

The Senators made it interesting in the third, pulling within
6-4 on Dany Heatley’s power-play goal with 8:22 remaining.

“I didn’t feel it was that bad an effort from our side,”
Alfredsson said. “They made some great shots.”

Ottawa was handed another power play less than a minute later
when Green slashed Jarkko Ruutu from behind on a breakaway,
preventing Ruutu from getting off a good shot.

The Capitals killed off the ensuing power play, then clinched
the win when Nicklas Backstrom scored into an empty net from
deep in his own zone with 24 seconds remaining.