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Hats Off to Ovechkin

Ovechkin's hat trick moved within three of Peter Bondra (19) for Washington's all-time franchise lead.

by Mike Vogel @VogsCaps / Monumental Sports Network

Ovechkin's hat trick moved within three of Peter Bondra (19) for Washington's all-time franchise lead. The Caps captain now has more career hat tricks than any active player in the NHL; he moved one ahead of Florida's Jaromir Jagr (15). 

Video: STL@WSH: Ovi pots three in win against Blues

Wayne Gretzky holds the all-time NHL record with 50 career hat tricks. 

Ovechkin's hat trick on Wednesday was his second in as many games against the Blues. Last April 9 in St. Louis, Ovechkin scored three goals to reach the 50-goal plateau on the season and to help Caps goalie Braden Holtby earn his 48th win of the season, tying him with Martin Brodeur for the all-time single-season wins mark.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, it's the second time in the last five years an NHL player has recorded hat tricks in consecutive games against the same opponent. Arizona forward Mikkel Boedker had hat tricks in consecutive games against the Ottawa Senators last season (Oct. 24 and Nov. 28, 2015). 

With 110 career multiple-goal games, Ovechkin has more than any other NHL player since 1995-96, despite not starting his own career until 2005-06. 

Ovechkin is the third Capitals player to record consecutive hat tricks against the same foe in Washington's franchise history. Peter Bondra victimized the New York Islanders in February/March of 1996 and Alexander Semin turned the trick against the Tampa Bay Lightning in November, 2010. 

Alex Ovechkin's 16th career hat trick helped power the Capitals to a 4-3 win over the St. Louis Blues at Verizon Center on Wednesday night, but more than those three goals went into taking down the Blues and halting their four-game winning streak.

St. Louis played on Tuesday night in Boston, so the Capitals were the more rested team. Washington used that to its advantage in the first period, drawing four minor penalties and taking a 1-0 lead on Ovechkin's power-play goal late in the first period. 

The Caps also worked the St. Louis defense hard early in the game, forechecking consistently and forcing the Blues' blueliners to dig pucks out and forcing some long shifts. 

"I liked a lot of our game," says Caps coach Barry Trotz. "[The Blues] didn't have much going on. I thought we played pretty well on both sides of the puck." 

Ovechkin's second goal gave the Caps a 2-0 lead in the second, but Washington gave it back right away. St. Louis sniper Vladimir Tarasenko scored on his own rebound on the very next shift of the game, just 36 seconds after Ovechkin's second strike.

"When we got the second goal, I didn't like the next shift; they scored," states Trotz. "When you've got the crowd behind you, you've got the momentum, there's nothing worse than when you get scored on that next shift. To me, that's an opportunity moment. It's recognizing an opportunity to keep the momentum and all that." 

Washington opened up a 4-1 lead when Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ovechkin scored 22 seconds apart early in the third, and the Caps seemed to have things well in hand. But Washington took a couple of late penalties of its own, giving the Blues a late glimmer of hope.

St. Louis scored twice in a span of 46 seconds - once on the power play and once with goaltender Carter Hutton pulled for an extra attacker - to make the final score closer than the Capitals would have liked. 

"We were good until just [before] the end," says Trotz. "We took a late penalty and they got a power play and a little life. We put some guys out there to get some experience, and [the Blues] got a little closer than we wanted." 

"I thought the game should have stayed 4-1 and I would have been a lot more happy. But two points against a very good team in St. Louis, we'll take that any day of the week." 

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