Ovechkin skated onto the Verizon Center ice with the captain's "C" on his jersey for the first time on Tuesday night against Montreal. The team celebrated his new leadership role with a 4-2 victory over the Canadiens, ending a season-worst three-game losing streak.
"I have a 'C' on my heart, but I'm going to do the same thing," said Ovechkin, who was introduced before the game as the team's 14th captain. He succeeds Chris Clark, who was traded to Columbus on Dec. 28. Ovechkin is the sixth Russian-born player to serve as captain on an NHL team, and the second-youngest captain in franchise history.
Ovechkin was held without a point for just the eighth time this season. Montreal also shut him out in a Nov. 20 win at Washington. On this night, leadership took priority.
"I have (their) trust," Ovechkin said of his teammates. "We have a lot of guys who can speak and talk. But if I have to say something, I say something."
GM George McPhee and coach Bruce Boudreau told the team during the morning skate that Ovi was their new captain.
"I know they were really happy when I told them this morning," Boudreau said. "This doesn't happen to often, but the group got up and cheered. I had talked to a lot of them in the last couple of days and they said that Alex was the only choice; he's our leader, he's our guy. I think the thing that really sort of shows how he was ready was, when I talked to him a few days ago, he said, 'I would accept the responsibility, but only if my teammates want me to.' Like, I mean, if they are happy with me as a captain, I would be glad to be their captain. So he was already thinking about the team rather than thinking of himself -- which is what good captains do."
The Caps' "other Alexander" -- Alexander Semin -- scored twice for Washington and Tomas Fleischmann, moved from wing to center, looked right at home in his new position with a goal and a pair of assists.
The Canadiens shut down Ovechkin but had no answers for Fleischmann, who looked comfortable as the second-line center -- as Washington recorded a season-high 43 shots.
"They've got some other ammunition," Montreal coach Jacques Martin said when asked about shutting down Ovechkin.
Fleischmann's line accounted for three of Washington's goals. Semin ended a six-game goal drought and had his first two-goal game since Dec. 11
"It's just getting used to it the first five minutes -- two shifts and that's it," Fleischmann said. "Just play the game."
The score was tied 1-1 when Eric Fehr threw a shot toward the net that bounced in off defenseman Hal Gill at 15:45 of the second. Semin scored on a snap shot from the top of the right circle 36 seconds later for his 15th goal of the season and a 3-1 lead.
"After a pretty even first period, I thought we lost momentum," Martin said. "They took the game away in the second period. They were more on the puck, were more aggressive, won more battles."
Benoit Pouliot got Montreal within 3-2 with 8:50 remaining in regulation when Marc-Andre Bergeron's power-play pass hit Pouliot, stationed between the circles, and caromed into the net. But Semin put the game away when he scored his second of the night with 2:02 left, converting Fleischmann's pass.
The Capitals limited the Canadiens to one shot in the opening 11 minutes and three for the first period, but didn't take the lead until Fleischmann's power-play goal 5:14 into the second. He got his 15th of the season when he picked off Andrei Markov's stick-shattering clearing try along the right boards, skated parallel to the goal and threaded a shot between two defenders and inside the left post.