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Ovechkin Has Nose for Net

Winger Scores 4 Goals, Including OT Winner, Despite Early Injury : Capitals 5, Canadiens 4

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Alex Ovechkin scores the first of his four goals at the 13:06 minute mark of the first period.
Alex Ovechkin scores the first of his four goals at the 13:06 minute mark of the first period. (Jonathan Newton - The Washington Post)
Alex Ovechkin gives the Capitals an early leg up with a first-period goal. He went on to score three more.
Alex Ovechkin gives the Capitals an early leg up with a first-period goal. He went on to score three more. (By Jonathan Newton -- The Washington Post)
Alex Ovechkin adds his second goal of the night against Montreal goaltender Cristobal Huet in the second period.
Alex Ovechkin adds his second goal of the night against Montreal goaltender Cristobal Huet in the second period. (Jonathan Newton - The Washington Post)
Alex Ovechkin slides across the ice after scoring his third goal in the third period.
Alex Ovechkin slides across the ice after scoring his third goal in the third period. (Jonathan Newton - The Washington Post)
Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin slips the puck past Montreal goaltender Cristobal Huet for his fourth goal of the night. Ovechkin also had an assist.
Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin slips the puck past Montreal goaltender Cristobal Huet for his fourth goal of the night. Ovechkin also had an assist. (Photos By Jonathan Newton -- The Washington Post)
The Capitals Alex Ovechkin celebrates as the puck still sits in the net after the left winger scored the game winner in overtime.
The Capitals Alex Ovechkin celebrates as the puck still sits in the net after the left winger scored the game winner in overtime. (Jonathan Newton - The Washington Post)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 1, 2008; Page E01

Alex Ovechkin's night began with him lying face down on the ice after being whacked unintentionally across the face by Alex Kovalev's stick, a blow that opened a wound on the inside of his cheek.

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It ended with the Washington Capitals all-star sitting atop the NHL in points for the first time in his stellar three-season career after scoring four goals, including the winner in overtime, to lift the Capitals to 5-4 victory at Verizon Center and strengthen his candidacy for the Hart Trophy, given to the league's MVP.

Along the way, his nose was also broken by Francis Bouillon's shoulder check, and an errant puck left him bleeding on the inside of his lower lip.

"Today was special day," said Ovechkin, who has scored three or more goals four times in his career, but not at home until last night's scintillating performance. "I broke my nose, I have stitches, I score four goals. Everything go to my face. It's the fifth time I broke my nose. It's okay."

Ovechkin, who also had an assist, moved into sole possession of the NHL scoring lead with 70 points, two more than Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson and Tampa Bay's Vinny Lecavalier. The 22-year-old Russian, who signed the league's wealthiest contract -- a 13-year, $124 million deal three weeks ago -- also leads the league in goals with 43, five more than Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk.

"He's an amazing person," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Don't get him angry."

His goal in overtime made sure he and his teammates didn't go home that way.

The Capitals took a 4-3 lead into the final minute of play, but Canadiens winger Guillaume Latendresse jammed a loose puck from underneath Washington goalie Olie Kolzig (17 saves) with 33 seconds remaining in regulation to steal a point and force overtime. Montreal had pulled goaltender Cristobal Huet for a sixth attacker.

Ovechkin, however, secured both points in the standings for the Capitals when he fired a rebound past Huet (33 saves) with 1 minute 26 seconds remaining in the extra session. Defenseman Jeff Schultz sent a pass to Ovechkin, who whiffed on the first attempt but got all of the second.

"Ovie plays with an edge, and you know the saying, 'Don't wake up a sleeping giant?' Not saying Ovie sleeps every night, but he threw it into an extra gear" after being slashed by Kovalev, Kolzig said.

It was Ovechkin's second four-goal game of the season; the other was in an 8-6 win at Ottawa on Dec. 29.

The victory comes two days after Washington was throttled in Montreal, 4-0. It also extended the Capitals' streak of not losing back-to-back games in regulation to 31, and stretched their home winning streak to five games. That, after opening the season a league-worst 2-7-0 in the District.


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