Caps' Ovechkin Does the Trick
Saturday, January 14, 2006
ANAHEIM, Calif., Jan. 13 -- As Alex Ovechkin leapt in celebration in the second period after scoring for the second time Friday night, the rookie left wing lost his edge and wound up sliding on his belly, with his arms outstretched, sort of like Superman.
It was unintentional, but the symbolism was impossible to ignore. Ovechkin recorded his first career hat trick and scored the game-winner in overtime to lift the Capitals to a 3-2 victory in front of 16,186 fans.
Ovechkin beat Jean-Sebastien Giguere 3 minutes 4 seconds into the extra session with a low wrist shot between the legs of a Ducks defenseman to clinch the win, which ended a season-worst six game losing streak for the Capitals.
"That was the best performance I've ever seen, including guys I've played with and played against, by far," said left wing Jeff Friesen of Ovechkin's night. "It's great for the team, it's great for the league."
Ovechkin's performance gave him 12 goals in the past 12 games. It was his sixth multi-goal game and first since Nov. 8.
"I'm very happy," Ovechkin said. "Today we play hard. Our goaltender was great today. He was our star tonight. Thanks, Johnny."
Capitals backup goalie Brent Johnson made 32 saves, and was spectacular in the third period and extra session. At the other end, Giguere faced 26 shots.
The Ducks were without two of their best players, Teemu Selanne and Rob Niedermayer. Selanne, the team's leading scorer, was a late scratch with a strained groin muscle and Niedermayer has a mild concussion.
The Capitals, meantime, got one of their most talented forwards back. Friesen, the Capitals' second-highest paid player, returned from a sports hernia that had kept the five time 20-goal scorer out of the lineup since Nov. 6.
The veteran left wing's return scrambled the forward combinations. Friesen skated on a line with Brian Sutherby and Brian Willsie.
The top line consisted of Ovechkin, Dainius Zubrus and Chris Clark; the third line was Matt Bradley, Jeff Halpern and Ben Clymer. Boyd Gordon, Brooks Laich and Colin Forbes were used sparingly.
Johnson made his ninth start in goal for the Capitals. He entered with a 2-5-0 record, 4.91 goals-against average and .862 save percentage.