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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

more."

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."

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

6-2.

"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.

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