Ovechkin Helps East Defeat West in NHL All-Star Game

The Capitals' Alex Ovechkin closes Roberto Luongo and the West out with a shootout goal in East's 12-11 triumph.
The Capitals' Alex Ovechkin closes Roberto Luongo and the West out with a shootout goal in East's 12-11 triumph. (By Ryan Remiorz -- Canadian Press Via Associated Press)
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By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 26, 2009

MONTREAL, Jan. 25 -- Alex Ovechkin came here hoping to add an all-star game most valuable player trophy to his already considerable collection of hardware.

He came up short of that goal, but the Washington Capitals winger still managed to snag the spotlight at Bell Centre, where he set a team record, blew away the capacity crowd with some scintillating stickwork and made everyone laugh as only he can in the Eastern Conference's 12-11 shootout victory on Sunday.

Ovechkin recorded a goal and two assists and also tallied in the shootout to make his fourth all-star game appearance a memorable one. The 23-year-old Russian now has six points (four goals, two assists) in the games, surpassing Peter Bondra's franchise record of five.

Ovechkin's second primary assist set up Jay Bouwmeester's goal with 3 minutes 39 seconds remaining to force the game into overtime tied at 11, and his goal in the shootout ended the game. But the MVP trophy Ovechkin coveted went to fellow Russian Alex Kovalev, who had two goals, an assist and the decisive shootout goal for the hometown Canadiens.

Ovechkin still had plenty of reasons to smile afterward.

"It was nice, especially [to score] against [Roberto] Luongo," said Ovechkin, who skated on a line with Boston's Marc Savard and Ottawa's Dany Heatley. The shootout goal "was kind of a lucky goal, but it was a goal. It just tried this move and it worked."

Ovechkin, who is only 9 for 34 all-time in the shootout in regular season games, looked at ease in Sunday's tiebreaker. He carried the puck wide, swooped in and deked Luongo, depositing the puck behind him with a backhanded shot from in tight.

Before that goal, the biggest reaction Ovechkin received from the fans didn't have anything to do with the game. It came during a break in the action late in the second period, when the high-definition screens hanging above center ice showed two women in the crowd dancing to the beat. The camera then cut to Ovechkin, who was looking up at the screen with his lips pursed, saying, 'Ooh.' The crowd erupted in laughter and Ovechkin, realizing what had happened, let out a chuckle of his own.

"They were dancing pretty well, and I said, 'Wow!' " Ovechkin said. "I don't think the camera was going to look straight at me."

Ovechkin was also the focus of the weekend's biggest story.

Something unique about all-star games is the opportunity for players from rival teams to find commonality -- or in the case of Ovechkin and Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin -- rediscover an old friendship.

By now the saga of the former roommates three years ago in Turin becoming estranged off the ice -- and downright nasty toward one another on it -- is well known. That animosity, though, was buried here Saturday night at a dinner arranged by countryman and Eastern Conference teammate Ilya Kovalchuk.

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