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Alex The Great: Ovechkin snags another MVP trophy

NHL.com @NHL

LAS VEGAS (AP) -Alex Ovechkin is again Alex The Great, but he'd rather be known as Alex the Champ.

The fun of repeating as league MVP and snagging the NHL Players' Association award for most outstanding player isn't enough to satisfy the itch.

"Well, uh, thanks to everybody, but first I want to say congrats to the Pittsburgh Penguins for winning the Stanley Cup," Ovechkin told an audience after winning the Lester B. Pearson Award, his first jackpot at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas on Thursday night.

The sentiment was the same he expressed last year, after taking home the Hart Award following a first-round loss in the playoffs.

This year, voters overwhelmingly picked Ovechkin over Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin and Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk, awarding him 115 of 131 first-place votes to make him the first back-to-back Hart winner since Buffalo goalie Dominik Hasek in 1997 and '98.

But Malkin and Datsyuk have titles, while Ovechkin does not.

"It's always fun when you win something," the 23-year-old winger said.

Ovechkin was the league's biggest star in its attempt to glitz up its annual awards, emerging as the NHL's headliner in its first year moving the show from Toronto to Las Vegas.

But celebrity appearances and an extra-long red carpet weren't required on this night - Ovechkin stood out above the rest during a year he led the league with 56 goals and was second with 110 points.

"It's important for me. What I'm doing on the ice, it's working and I don't want to stop," Ovechkin said. "Right now, I'm the best, but next year everyone will be better."

Ovechkin said he planned to send his individual trophies home to Russia and take a break before he figures out how to guide his team to a title.

"Right now, I just want a vacation," said Ovechkin, who won $10,000 for the award.

Malkin took home $6,000 for second place and Datsyuk $4,000 for third.

Datsyuk couldn't best Ovechkin, but he did pull off a double play of his own for the second consecutive season. Datsyuk, the Red Wings' outstanding two-way center, claimed the Selke Trophy as the league's top defensive forward and the Lady Byng for gentlemanly play and skill.

"Second," Datsyuk said after winning the Lady Byng. "Now I'm more confident."

Datsyuk, who nearly helped the Red Wings to a second straight Stanley Cup title after returning from injury during the finals, has won the Lady Byng four consecutive years and the Selke twice in a row.

The Boston Bruins made a disappointing exit in the second round of the playoffs after posting the best record in the Eastern Conference, but they took home multiple awards on Thursday.

Tim Thomas, who had a 2.10 goals-against average, won the Vezina Trophy for best goalie, and 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara earned the Norris Trophy as top defenseman, breaking the three-year winning streak of Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom. Lidstrom had won it six of the past seven seasons.

Thomas called his trophy a dream that he wasn't used to thinking about.

"I had been more worried about getting my name on a roster than about winning the Vezina Trophy," he said.

Thomas took 22 of 26 first-place votes in the Vezina voting.

Bruins coach Claude Julien was given the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's top bench boss.

Columbus goalie Steve Mason took the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year after leading the NHL with 10 shutouts and ranking second with a 2.29 goals-against average. He was the first rookie to lead the NHL in shutouts since Chicago's Tony Esposito in 1970.

Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin settled for being a finalist after winning the regular season and playoff scoring titles. Votes were cast before the Penguins' run to the Stanley Cup championship.

The league moved its awards show to Las Vegas in the hope that injecting some Sin City glitz would generate buzz for its players and the sport.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said moving the show would to Vegas could expand the year-end celebration. Las Vegas, he said, would attract more fans and celebrities and make things more exciting for players honored as the best of the best.

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