LAS VEGAS (AP) -The NHL is boosting the spotlight on its annual awards ceremony by adding Las Vegas glitz, and Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin hopes he will also shine as a repeat most valuable player winner on Thursday night.
Ovechkin scored a league-high 56 goals during the regular season and will learn during an awards show at the Palms Casino Resort whether that was enough to snag the Hart Memorial Trophy again. The 23-year-old winger would be the first back-to-back winner since Buffalo goalie Dominik Hasek in 1997 and '98.
Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin won the regular season and playoff scoring titles, but votes were cast before the Penguins' run to the Stanley Cup championship. Pavel Datsyuk, of the runner-up Detroit Red Wings, is the other MVP finalist.
The three players are also finalists for the Pearson Award, voted on by their peers and presented by the NHL Players' Association.
The league moved its awards show to Las Vegas from Toronto in hopes that injecting some Sin City glitz would generate buzz for its players and the sport.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in moving the show that Las Vegas would give it more room to expand its year-end celebration of its players. Las Vegas, he said, would attract more fans and celebrities and make things more exciting for players honored as the best of the best.
The show was expected to include performances from singers Robin Thicke and Chaka Khan, as well as several celebrity appearances.
On Tuesday night, Ovechkin and Vancouver's Ryan Kesler donned motion capture suits and skated around for fans and reporters on a synthetic ice rink in front of Caesars Palace to promote a video game and the awards. Kesler is a finalist for the league's Selke Trophy, given to the best defensive forward.
On Wednesday, Ovechkin and others joined poker stars across the street from the Palms for a charity tournament at the World Series of Poker. Bettman and World Series of Poker commissioner Jeffrey Pollack are half-brothers.