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Wings agree; Alexander is Great

Tuesday, 12.18.2007 / 9:10 AM / Game-Day Skate

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Alexander Ovechkin registered his 24th goal of the season last night against the Red Wings.
Some random thoughts before I kindly ask Pamela Anderson and Rick Salomon to return those candlesticks:

Alex The Great -- In his first trip to Joe Louis Arena, Washington Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin gave Motown a glimpse of the special player he has truly become.

While the Caps failed to acquire to two points in their first trip to Detroit in more than four years, Ovechkin helped his club at least get one as he tallied his 24th goal of the season midway through the first period of Monday night’s 4-3 shootout loss.

He nearly gave his much-improved club what would have been an impressive victory, but Detroit netminder Dominik Hasek denied No. 8 on a Grade-A chance in overtime.

Afterward, Hasek rightfully included Ovechkin among the NHL’s elite young players.

“He’s a very talented player, along with Sidney Crosby and (Evgeni) Malkin,” Hasek said of Ovechkin. “The way he scores goals, he’s such an exciting player. I like to see him on the highlights. But when I play against him, I have to pay special attention to him. He’s a great shooter and almost half of their offense.”

Speaking of half their offense, how good is the trio of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom?

The trio combined for eight points Monday, as Holmstrom -- who missed the past two games with a sore knee -- scored twice in his return. For the record, Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Holmstrom have now combined for 53 goals and 118 points.

As far as trios go, perhaps only Jack Tripper, Janet Wood and Chrissy Snow were more entertaining (anybody else wish they could spend just one night hanging out at the Regal Beagle?) to watch.

LaBarbera

L.A. hit by Avalanche -- Jason LaBarbera was probably itching to get back between the pipes for the Kings after missing eight-consecutive games with a rib injury.

After the first period, though, there was no longer a need to scratch.

LaBarbera faced 16 shots in the opening period of Monday night’s 4-2 loss to Colorado at the STAPLES Center, as the Avalanche were up 2-0 less than four minutes into the game thanks to early goals from Ryan Smyth and Jaroslav Hlinka.

The Kings (12-20-2) have now lost four in a row and are fading faster than Ruben Studdard. They’ll attempt to right the ship Wednesday night at Detroit, which is 15-2-1 on home ice this season.

”It's frustrating,” LaBarbera said of the Kings’ woes. “You can't get behind 3-0 against a team like that because you're not going to come back on them. We did a pretty good job trying to -- but what's the point, you know?”

It’s no secret that in order for Los Angeles to have any chance at Joe Louis Arena, it will have to get off to a better start. While the Kings clawed themselves back into Monday’s game by scoring twice early in the third period, Patrick O’Sullivan knows his team needs to put forth more 60-minute efforts if it hopes to get back into the Western Conference playoff race.

”Being down 3-0 going into the third period … there’s only so many times you can come back and tie it and try to get a win in overtime or a shootout,” O’Sullivan said. “We fell short again. It’s happened too much this year.”

Return of Roberto? -- Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo could be back Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils.

Luongo, who missed four-straight games due to a rib injury, practiced with the Canucks Monday and declared himself ready to go.

"I didn't have any issues when I'm on the ice, so that's the main thing," said Luongo, who has a 2.12 GAA in 26 games this season. "I was able to get through the practice with no discomfort or no pain. It's really feeing good."

As Bears coach Morris Buttermaker would say in such a situation; “What does that mean for the Devils? Bad news for the Devils!”

Brian Compton can be e-mailed at: bcompton@nhl.com.

Quote of the Day

It's always a little bit weird, but it moves on. They've got a good team, and they played well tonight. I think that's just part of it.

— Peter Laviolette on facing his former team (Flyers) for the first time since his departure