WASHINGTON – Missing seven injured players? No problem.
Not with Alex Ovechkin in the lineup Wednesday night. Ovechkin had his sixth career hat trick and added an assist to help the Capitals end a three-game losing streak with a 5-3 victory over the Thrashers.
“It was a great start for us, especially the hat trick and then the winning,” Ovechkin said. “We lost three in a row, and we just had to come back to our building and win the game.”
Ovechkin needed a little more than a period to score three times. He gave Washington an early lead with his power-play goal 3:29 into the game.
Eric Fehr made it 2-0 at 7:33 of the first period by finishing a perfect cross from Tomas Fleischmann. Ovechkin scored his second power-play goal off Viktor Kozlov pass with 5:59 left in the period for a 3-1 lead.
Ovechkin’s third goal came on a quick shot from between the circles after a quick pass from Tom Poti 54 seconds into the second period. Ovechkin assisted on Viktor Kozlov’s third-period goal and has 10 goals and 14 assists in November.
Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said that Ovechkin is back on his game again, and the two first-period goals probably fired him up.
“When he gets one early, he gets energized,” Boudreau said. “When he’s on, it sure makes it difficult to stop.”
Washington’s Chris Clark (stress fracture of forearm), Jeff Schultz (broken finger), Boyd Gordon (back) and John Erskine (undisclosed) were hurt Monday night in a loss to Minnesota. They joined Alexander Semin (back), Mike Green (shoulder), Sergei Federov (ankle), each of whom have been out with injuries.
Schultz will be out 4-6 weeks while Clark is expected to miss at least three weeks. The rest are all considered day-to-day.
The injuries forced Washington to recall defencemen Alzner and Sami Lepisto plus right wing Graham Mink and left wing Christopher Bourque from Hershey of the AHL. Those moves left the Capitals with three defencemen – Alzner, Lepisto and Tyler Sloan – who have less than 15 games of NHL experience. But their play delighted Boudreau as Lepisto and Sloan both got assists, and Alzner was consistent in his first game.
“I thought they all did pretty good tonight,” Boudreau said. “I thought we needed the energy. They did a good job.”
Alzner couldn’t stop smiling the locker room after the game. “I’ve been shaking the whole time, ever since I got here,” Alzner said. “It’s unbelievable. I’m starting to settle down now.”
Despite playing with that inexperienced defense, the Capitals shut down the Thrashers with goalie Jose Theodore making 15 saves. Washington held a 33-18 edge in shots.
Bryan Little, Slava Kozlov and Nathan Oystrick scored goals for Atlanta, which couldn’t find an answer for Ovechkin, who nearly scored two more.
“There’s a reason he scores 50 or 60, because it’s not just against our team, it’s against everybody,” said Atlanta coach John Anderson.
Notes: Lepistos assist was his second career point. … Ovechkin has scored points in nine straight games. … Slava Kozlov has played in 141 straight games.