Ovechkin Scores Twice, East Wins
Monday, January 28, 2008
ATLANTA, Jan. 27 -- The only thing Alex Ovechkin enjoys more than being in the spotlight is scoring goals.
On Sunday, the 22-year-old Washington Capitals left wing got to do a little of both in the NHL All-Star Game at Philips Arena.
Ovechkin became the first player in franchise history to record two goals in the game, helping the Eastern Conference to a back-and-forth 8-7 victory that was decided on a goal by Boston Bruins center Marc Savard with 20.9 seconds remaining.
Ovechkin, in his second all-star game appearance, also became the franchise's career all-star goal leader with three, surpassing Mike Gartner's total of two. Gartner made four all-star appearances.
"I'm good," Ovechkin said, grinning.
With Sidney Crosby, Ovechkin's biggest rival, sidelined with a high ankle sprain, the stage was set for the Washington winger to steal the spotlight and solidify his spot as the game's most exciting player.
He didn't waste the opportunity.
Put on a line with Ottawa center Jason Spezza and Tampa Bay right wing Martin St. Louis, Ovechkin netted both goals in the first period to help the East jump out 5-1 lead after 20 minutes.
But after a furious comeback by Columbus wing Rick Nash (three goals, including the fastest goal in all-star game history) and his Western teammates, who grabbed a 7-6 edge on a goal by Minnesota's Marian Gaborik at 10 minutes 57 seconds of the third period, the East secured the win on late strikes by Carolina's Eric Staal and Savard.
Staal, with a pair of goals and an assist on the winner, captured MVP honors. Bruins goalie Tim Thomas was credited with the victory.
"Even though it's a fun game, we're all competitive and we want to win," Eastern Conference Coach John Paddock said. "I didn't read the rules, so I don't know if it was going to go to overtime or a shootout. I'm just glad we didn't have to find out."
Ovechkin said he was happy to net a pair of goals. But he was proud when Paddock scrambled his lines and pairings so that he could put "The Russian Five" on the ice for two shifts in the third period. The quintet was comprised of forwards Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk and Evgeni Malkin and defensemen Andrei Markov and Sergei Gonchar. It created several scoring chances, but struggled defensively.