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Ovechkin powers Caps past Canadiens

by John Kreiser

Since agreeing to a 13-year, $124 million extension on Jan. 10, Alex Ovechkin has been almost unstoppable. He has 11 goals and 18 points in nine games, and was held pointless only in Tuesday’s 4-0 loss at Montreal. Ovechkin goes through Streit's legs for a goal
The way he’s been scoring goals since agreeing to his new contract, Alex Ovechkin is looking like a bargain.

Ovechkin capped his second four-goal performance in less than five weeks by tapping in Jeff Schultz’s pass with 1:26 remaining in overtime, giving the Washington Capitals a 5-4 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.

Since agreeing to a 13-year, $124 million extension on Jan. 10, Ovechkin has been almost unstoppable. He has 11 goals and 18 points in nine games, and was held pointless only in Tuesday’s 4-0 loss at Montreal.

“He was frustrated because we shut him down last game, and we knew he was going to be ready," Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said of Ovechkin. "He made great plays on two of the goals, but we had breakdowns on the other two."

The Capitals blew 3-0 and 4-2 leads, allowing Montreal to force overtime when Guillaume Latendresse pulled the puck from under goalie Olaf Kolzig and tucked it into the net with 32.6 seconds left in regulation time. But Ovechkin got his league-leading 43rd goal and 70th point when he raced to the front of the net in time to swat Schultz’s pass into a half-empty net after Mike Green’s point shot hit a leg and deflected to Schultz.

“He never ceases to amaze me,” Caps forward Matt Pettinger said. “The passion he plays with is contagious.”

Ovechkin also assisted on Viktor Kozlov’s second-period goal that made it 2-0. It was his second four-goal, five-point performance of the season — he also had four goals and an assist in Washington’s 8-6 win at Ottawa on Dec. 29.

"We scored five, and he was in on all five," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "How can you say enough about him? He's an amazing person."

Many of the Caps, including Ovechkin, were angered by Montreal’s push to score another goal in the final minute of Tuesday’s 4-0 loss at the Bell Centre. Washington came out firing, taking the game’s first seven shots and jumping to a 1-0 lead when Ovechkin ripped a slap shot from the middle of the left circle past Cristobal Huet at 13:06.

With the rest of the Southeast Division coming up fast behind them, the Carolina Hurricanes couldn’t afford to let Thursday night’s home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs slip away. Captain Rod Brind’Amour and the ’Canes power play made sure they left RBC Center with two points.

Brind’Amour converted Ray Whitney’s feed in the slot 3:20 into overtime and Carolina survived Mats Sundin’s game-tying tally in the waning seconds of regulation to claim a 3-2 victory. ...more

The goal, Ovechkin’s 40th of the season, came after he was clipped up high early in the game by an errant Alex Kovalev stick and laid on the ice for several minutes before getting to his feet. He also broke his nose when he was sent hard into the boards by Montreal defenseman Francis Bouillon.

"Today was a special day," Ovechkin said with a smile. "I broke my nose, have stitches (and) score four goals. Everything (went) to my face."

Kozlov tapped in a feed from Ovechkin at 4:35 of the second period, and Ovechkin got his second of the night at 11:54 when he drove to the net and roofed Kozlov’s pass, giving Washington a seemingly comfortable 3-0 lead.

"The way Ovie scored the goals today, he's pretty amazing," Kozlov said. "Alex's game is excellent, excellent. Hitting people, passing, scoring. I don't know what else forwards could do."

But the Canadiens didn’t roll over. Sergei Kostitsyn scored for Montreal less than a minute after Washington's third goal, and brother Andrei Kostitsyn cut the lead to 3-2 with a power-play goal with less than one second remaining in the period.

“They’re a very good team,” Kolzig said. “Give them a little room and they’ll take advantage of it.”

Ovechkin completed his fourth career hat trick — and first at the Verizon Center — with 7:30 remaining in regulation time, snapping a shot past Huet. But Latendresse got the Canadiens within a goal with 6:13 remaining, then forced the overtime by scoring with Huet on the bench in favor of an extra attacker.

“In the third period, we came back again, but Ovechkin was too strong," Carbonneau said.

Material from wire services and team broadcast and online media was used in this report.

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