(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)


(Update: Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom react to announcement.)

Alex Ovechkin on Friday was named a finalist for the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player, the award he won in back-to-back years in 2008 and 2009. Pittsburgh rival Sidney Crosby and the New York Islanders’ John Tavares were the other two finalists.

Ovechkin struggled to adjust to the right wing early this season but finished as the league’s leading goal scorer for the third time with 32 goals in 48 games (accounting for 29.1 percent of the team’s offense), including 23 in his final 23 contests. In that span, Washington went 17-4-2.

The Capitals star — who is also a finalist for NHLPA’s most outstanding player award — led the NHL in power-play goals (16) this season and tied teammate Mike Ribeiro for the league lead in power-play scoring (27). Ovechkin finished with 56 points (32 goals, 24 assists), tied for third in the league.

In the regular season, the Capitals went 23-7-2 when Ovechkin tallied at least one point and 19-3-2 in games in which he scored a goal. So that is why, as Barry Svrluga writes, the Capitals will need the MVP-caliber version of their captain tonight in Game 5 against the New York Rangers.

The Hart Trophy winner will be announced during the Stanley Cup final.