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Short Shifts

Birthdays for Alex Ovechkin, Auston Matthews

Forwards celebrate in Toronto getting ready for World Cup of Hockey

by Pat Pickens @Pat_Pickens / Staff Writer

The hockey world was in celebration mode Saturday.

Besides the start of the World Cup of Hockey 2016, two of the NHL's brightest stars celebrated a birthday, as Alex Ovechkin turned 31 and Auston Matthews turned 19.

The Russian hockey federation posted a list of Ovechkin's career accomplishments, wishing the three-time Hart Trophy honoree and six-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner "a very happy birthday, as well as health, happiness and more success on the ice!"

Ovechkin and Team Russia practiced Saturday ahead of their World Cup opener against Team Sweden on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; ESPN, SN, TVA Sports). Even with a game to play Sunday, Ovechkin intends to celebrate his birthday in Toronto.

Tweet from @TomGulittiNHL: Today is Alex Ovechkin's 31st birthday. He said yesterday he would celebrate with some champagne.

Ovechkin will likely receive gifts from his family and friends, but he been providing others with presents throughout the week. The Washington Capitals captain hooked up his Team Russia teammates with new gear Wednesday, and he posted an adorable childhood photo of himself to Instagram on Saturday to commemorate his birthday and entertain his fans.

Matthews, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, practiced with Team North America on Saturday ahead of its game against Team Finland on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; ESPN2, SN, TVA Sports). Like Ovechkin, Matthews intends to celebrate his turning another year older, but he has been so singularly focused about helping Team North America, he nearly forgot his birthday.

Tweet from @markhmasters: Asked if he had any birthday plans, Auston Matthews laughed & said he completely forgot he was turning 19 tomorrow #WCH2016

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