Ovechkin's 4 Goals Lift Capitals to Upset

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 30, 2007

OTTAWA, Dec. 29 -- If Alex Ovechkin was less than 100 percent because of stitches in his thigh, it wasn't evident Saturday night against the Ottawa Senators.

Ovechkin notched the first four-goal game of his career and added an assist to lead the Washington Capitals to a wild 8-6 victory, their second triumph over the Eastern Conference's best team at Scotiabank Place this season.

"Today, I shoot everything and everything go in," Ovechkin said, flashing his gap-toothed smile. "Right now I don't think about 60 goals [because] we win. It was fun game, I think, for fans to watch."

Asked about his right leg, which was sliced by an opponent's skate blade on Thursday in Pittsburgh, "It was some pain, but it's okay," he said.

Ovechkin's outburst pushed his goal total to 30, putting him solidly in second place in the league behind Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk, who has 32. But more important, the win moved the Capitals out of last place, sending them past the Tampa Bay Lightning into 14th in the Eastern Conference.

"We've been there probably since the 10th game of the year," Coach Bruce Boudreau said of lingering at the bottom of the conference standings. "It's nice to see that your hard work is progressing. It means we're going in the right direction."

Michael Nylander chipped in with two goals and Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin each had a goal and two assists to complement Ovechkin's performance. Olie Kolzig stopped 16 shots, but gave up three goals to Mike Fisher, all in the third period.

Saturday's game could have gone either way during an unpredictable final frame, which began with the Capitals leading 5-2.

The Senators pulled within a goal three times, with Daniel Alfredsson pushing a puck just wide of the net with 37 seconds remaining that would have tied the score at 7.

Ovechkin clinched it with an empty-net goal nine second later, though, shooting the puck from deep in the Capitals' zone.

In Washington's last visit to Ottawa on Nov. 8, the Capitals won, 4-1, and snapped the Senators' franchise-best eight-game winning streak. Saturday night, they handed the Senators just their ninth regulation loss.

"A win is a win, is a win is a win," Boudreau said. He also praised Ovechkin's performance, saying: "I haven't seen him that on. He wanted ice. You just knew something was in the air."

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