Capitals Running Out of Superlatives for Ovechkin

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 2, 2008

Olie Kolzig called it one of the "top two or three" individual efforts he has seen by a Washington Capitals player. Coach Bruce Boudreau said it ranks "right up there" with the best performances he ever has witnessed.

With the Atlanta Thrashers storming into Verizon Center for tonight's key Southeast Division matchup, all anyone wanted to discuss yesterday was Alex Ovechkin's performance Thursday, when he almost single-handedly lifted the Capitals to a 5-4 overtime victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Ovechkin racked up four goals and an assist -- with a broken nose, no less -- and the challenge at Kettler Capitals Iceplex yesterday was to find the most appropriate superlative for the latest chapter in what is becoming an individual season for the ages.

"It was definitely a special game," said Kolzig, who has played 15 seasons in Washington. "He gets high-sticked. He gets an elbow to the nose. The kid can play through anything. I told him [on the ice after the game] that he's the best player I've ever played with."

Ovechkin was among a handful of a players who opted not to practice, preferring instead to rest up after a physical contest that left his nose slightly off-kilter and his cheek and bottom lip swollen.

"Every game is special for me," he said. "Especially in our situation because we have opportunity to move forward. . . . The fans were excited. The team was excited. I was excited, too."

They had good reason:

¿ The four-goal game was Ovechkin's second, as well as his second five-point performance.

¿ He recorded five hits against the Canadiens and finished a career-best plus-four.

¿ With 70 points, he leads the NHL in scoring for the first time in his career.

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