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Posted at 05:54 PM ET, 02/07/2010

Ovechkin records hat trick in Caps' win

Whether you made it to Verizon Center or not, aren't you glad this game didn't get postponed?

I heard people afterward calling today's 5-4 overtime win the best regular-season game in Capitals history. Because I haven't seen each and every last one of them, I can't say whether it was or wasn't. But it's got to be in the conversation.

Check out my gamer here, then come on back for a few notes and quotes:

*The win was the Caps' 14th in a row, which is tied for the third longest in NHL history (with the 1929-30 Bruins). It also was their 11th straight at home, which set a franchise record.

*When the Caps went down 2-0 on a pair of goals by Sidney Crosby, who else had flashbacks of Game 7 last May? Come on, be honest.

"I think it's the weather," Ovechkin said of the slow start. "The [late-arriving] crowd was getting in during the first period. You could see the crowd pushing us in the third period and we just keep going, keep going. It's pretty sick."

*Ovechkin's hat trick was the Capitals' first of the season, his first since Feb. 15, 2009 in Florida, and helped him take the lead in goals with 42 and extended his lead in points with 86. He also got the hard hat for the second time this season.

"He finds a way," Boudreau said. "When he's in the zone, he's in the zone and it doesn't matter. When you start hitting him, and he starts getting his adrenaline going, all he needs to do is touch the puck as he did on his third goal. It was 'boom' and it was in the net."

*The officiating left both teams frustrated. The Caps were angry about the phantom slashing call assessed to Jeff Schultz (Matt Cooke's stick broke on its own) late in regulation. And the Pens were upset about Brooks Orpik's high stick on Alexander Semin in OT.

"The one ref was five feet from the play and didn't make the call and the ref who was outside the blue line makes the call with four minutes to go in the game," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I know they're human, but that one was a tough one to swallow."

Orpik was steamed, too.

"He sells it all the time," the Pens D-man said of Semin. "The kid's a baby. He does it all game long. I've got zero respect for the kid. If it was a penalty, it was a penalty. I don't know. But the kid does that all game long. It's tough to lose on that."

*Jose Theodore's 31-save effort got lost in Ovechkin's hat trick and the winning streak. But I thought he was outstanding, especially in the third period, when he stopped all 11 shots he faced to close the door. His biggest save came at 11:38 of the third when he snatched a rocket off the stick of Alex Goligoski out of midair.

"Theodore played great," Boudreau said. "The sign of a good goalie to me is when you're tied at the end or up one goal, it's someone who can preserve that one-goal lead and give you an opportunity to win it, and he did."

Theodore added: "We didn't let down. I felt pretty good. There's one thing about me, I'm a fighter. Tonight, I just said I'm going to keep fighting until [my teammates] came through."

*Mike Knuble said his decision to fight Craig Adams in the first period was part sticking up for a teammate and part trying to fire up the bench. Adams who pushed Ovechkin headfirst into the boards from behind.

"I saw [Ovechkin] there and thought maybe you've got to wake yourself up one way or another, get yourself into the game," Knuble said. "Sometimes you have to get in the fray a little bit."

That's it from here. Geno wrote a sidebar on all the travel issues facing the teams and fans today, which you can read here. The Caps are not scheduled to practice tomorrow.

By  |  05:54 PM ET, 02/07/2010

Tags:  Pittsburgh Penguins

 
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