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Ovechkin gets some help from his friends

by Dan Rosen /
PITTSBURGH -- His smile went from ear to ear and yes, you could see right into his mouth through that big gap in his teeth.

When David Steckel, who was sitting to Alex Ovechkin's right at the podium, said the goal he scored 6:22 into overtime Monday night was the biggest of his career and that he didn't know how to celebrate it, the smile on Ovechkin's face got so big his cheeks nearly turned red.

Nobody knows how to celebrate goals better than Ovechkin, and nobody knows how important secondary scoring is better than the Capitals' superstar.

Ovechkin, who finished with three assists in Washington's 5-4 overtime victory at Mellon Arena, is thrilled when he gets help from his friends. He got a lot of it Monday night.

"It doesn't matter who scores, it doesn't matter," Ovechkin said. "It's important that we won the game and we go back to our building and our fans. We're excited and happy right now."

Viktor Kozlov, the forgotten wing on Ovechkin's opposite side and arguably the forgotten Russian in the room, scored twice. Alexander Semin, one of Ovechkin's closest friends on the team, was struggling through the first five games, but he dished out two assists, including one on the game-tying goal by Brooks Laich.

Tomas Fleischmann, who plays the opposite wing from Semin, also scored. And, of course, there was Steckel standing in the slot and sticking out his stick to deflect Brooks Laich's shot past Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for his third goal of the series.

Heck, when the Capitals get secondary scoring like that, Ovechkin doesn't even need to put the puck in the net.

Fine by him.

"I think everybody today had a big role in the game, especially in the first period when they scored only one goal and they had a power play, 5-on-3," Ovechkin said, referring to the opening 20 minutes when the Penguins outshot the Caps, 18-5, but managed only one goal because Steckel, Boyd Gordon and Tom Poti killed Pittsburgh's 56-second 5-on-3 advantage. "Everybody has to be involved. Everybody has to score goals.

"Everybody understands it's time to play hardest, and this group of guys never gives up."

Sometimes, watching his teammates go to work energizes No. 8. He marveled at the Caps' reunited third line of Steckel, Laich and Matt Bradley on Monday night.

"You sit on the bench and see how they play and you want to play the same way," Ovechkin said. "It's very important for us."

He was thrilled to see Semin get back to his skillful form, too. Semin, who scored five goals against the New York Rangers in the opening round, is still goalless against the Penguins, but he contributed a pair of assists in Game 6.

He was originally credited with Brooks Laich's goal 5:38 into the third period, 58 seconds after Kris Letang put the Penguins up, 3-2, but the goal was later given to Laich because the puck deflected in off his knee. Nevertheless, the goal gave the Capitals life and then Kozlov scored 29 seconds later to make it 4-3. Semin also assisted on Fleischmann's goal 14:42 into the second period.

"I think he has confidence, but sometimes you just feel no good and you need a couple of big hits and big moments to be in the game," Ovechkin said of Semin. "In the second period, I think he recovered and played great with Feds (Sergei Fedorov) and Flash (Fleischmann). That was a big goal and then Semin scored. That was a big goal for us."

Crosby-Ovechkin Gear Alex Ovechkin Gear Sidney Crosby Gear Not to be overlooked are Ovechkin's three assists, which give him 13 points in the series and a League-best 20 for the playoffs. However, No. 8 could care less about his numbers right now.

He's onto thinking about Wednesday's Game 7, a fitting conclusion to this thrilling series.

"I think it's going to be a great game," he said. "The League wants us to play seven games and they got it. The fans are probably happy, too. It's going to be a hard game for both teams, but we have five players on the ice and the sixth player is our fans. They're going to be with us. We're going to be flying out there, too."

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