ARLINGTON, Va. -- When the Washington Capitals were faced with a 10-point deficit in the Southeast Division standings in mid-March and were in danger of missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six years, Alex Ovechkin turned his season around.
Beginning March 14, Ovechkin had a League-high 23 goals and 36 points in the final 23 games of the regular season as the Capitals went 17-4-2 to clinch the division title.
Ovechkin's efforts were recognized Friday when he was named one of three finalists for the Hart Trophy, awarded annually to the "player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team." Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and John Tavares of the New York Islanders are the other finalists.
"It's nice and I'm sure I'm going to have time to celebrate later, but right now it's all about business and focus on the game," Ovechkin said as the Capitals prepared Friday for Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS2).
"It's big. It means like I'm still [a factor]," he said of his fourth career Hart Trophy nomination, his first since 2009-10. "It was a hard year, it was hard season for all of us, and I'm happy to be in that kind of position."