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Ovechkin strikes early; Crosby leads comeback @NHL

Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals made quick work of Atlanta, while Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins dug out of another big hole on Long Island.

Ovechkin had his sixth career hat trick and added an assist to help the injury-riddled Capitals beat the Thrashers 5-3 on Wednesday night.

"It was a great start for us, especially the hat trick," Ovechkin said. "We lost three in a row and we just had to come back to our building and win the game."

Crosby had a goal and set up two by Evgeni Malkin in a 5:35 span of the third, and Malkin finished his natural hat trick with an empty-netter in Pittsburgh's 5-3 comeback victory over the New York Islanders.

"It was crazy, but it was a fun game," Crosby said. "We seemed to capitalize on every chance in that period. We don't look to quit. A lot of leads are tough to hold. It's happened to us a few times."

In other NHL games Wednesday night, it was: Philadelphia 3, Carolina 1; San Jose 3, Chicago 2 in overtime; Montreal 3, Detroit 1; New Jersey 3, Florida 2 in overtime; the New York Rangers 3, Tampa Bay 2 in a shootout; Dallas 4, Minnesota 3; Buffalo 3, Boston 2; Colorado 3, St. Louis 1; Phoenix 3, Columbus 2; and Los Angeles 2, Edmonton 1.

In Washington, Ovechkin scored twice in the first period.

"When he gets one early, he gets energized," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said.

Eric Fehr and Viktor Kozlov added goals for Washington. Bryan Little, Slava Kozlov and Nathan Oystrick scored for Atlanta.

Washington's Chris Clark (stress fracture of forearm), Jeff Schultz (broken finger), Boyd Gordon (back) and John Erskine (undisclosed) missed the game after sustaining injuries Monday night in Minnesota, while Alexander Semin (back), Mike Green (shoulder) and Sergei Federov (ankle) also are sidelined.

In Uniondale, N.Y., the Islanders blew a two-goal lead in the third period for the second straight time at home against Pittsburgh. On Nov. 8 at Nassau Coliseum, the Penguins rallied for a 4-3 shootout victory.

"We've definitely learned our lesson," New York defenseman Andy Sutton said. "There is a lot of talent in this league, and if you sit back just the littlest bit - it might not even be noticeable to the eye - teams are going to take advantage."

Brooks Orpik also scored for Pittsburgh, and John Curry won in his NHL debut, stopping all 11 shots he faced after Dany Sabourin was chased with Pittsburgh down 3-0. Doug Weight, Trent Hunter and Bill Guerin scored for New York.

At Raleigh, N.C., Simon Gagne had two goals and an assist, and Matt Carle scored the go-ahead goal in Philadelphia's sixth straight victory.

Antero Niittymaki made 27 saves, allowing only Chad LaRose's goal.

At San Jose, Calif., Joe Thornton scored on a give-and-go with Ryane Clowe 45 seconds into overtime to give San Jose its fifth consecutive victory.

Evgeni Nabokov stopped 26 shots in his return from a seven-game injury absence, and Rob Blake and Patrick Marleau added goals to help NHL-leading San Jose improve to 12-0-1 at the Shark Tank. Jonathan Toews scored twice for Chicago.

At Detroit, Carey Price made 32 saves, and Maxim Lapierre, Tomas Plekanec and Christopher Higgins scored second-period goals for Montreal.

Johan Franzen scored for Detroit.

At Sunrise, Fla., Johnny Oduya scored his first goal of the season with 55.5 seconds left in overtime to give New Jersey its fifth consecutive victory.

Scott Clemmensen stopped 35 shots, and Brian Gionta and Travis Zajac also scored. Florida scored twice in the final 2:19 of regulation, the first by Jay Bouwmeester and the second by David Booth with 7.2 seconds left.

At Tampa, Fla., Markus Naslund scored twice and had one of two New York goals in a shootout to help the Rangers sweep the four-game season series.

Nikolai Zherdev had two assists and also scored in the shootout. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 shots and turned aside both attempts in the tiebreaker. Mark Recchi and Ryan Malone scored for the Lightning.

At St. Paul, Minn., Loui Eriksson had a goal and two assists and Dallas overcame a two-goal deficit to beat Minnesota.

Down 3-1 late in the second period, Dallas tied it on goals by James Neal and Brad Richards, then took the lead when Eriksson tipped a shot in with 7 minutes left. Neal had two goals. Eric Belanger, Owen Nolan and Andrew Brunette scored for Minnesota.

At Buffalo, N.Y., Derek Roy scored twice, and Ryan Miller made 27 saves to help Buffalo snap a five-game losing streak and end Boston's four-game winning streak.

Jochen Hecht also scored for Buffalo. Matt Hunwick and Phil Kessel scored for Boston, and Tim Thomas stopped 20 shots in his first regulation loss since Oct. 30.

At Denver, Daniel Tjarnqvist had a goal and an assist for Colorado in a victory that made Paul Stastny a winner in his first NHL matchup against brother Yan.

Ian Laperriere and Ryan Smyth added goals. Keith Tkachuk scored for St. Louis.

At Columbus, Ohio, Viktor Tikhonov scored with 2:32 remaining, and Mikael Tellqvist made 38 saves to help Phoenix end a six-game losing skid.

David Hale had his first NHL goal, and Daniel Carcillo also scored. Kristian Huselius and Jason Chimera scored for Columbus.

At Edmonton, Alberta, Jason LaBarbera made 22 saves, and Anze Kopitar and Patrick O'Sullivan each had a goal and an assist for Los Angeles.

Ales Hemsky scored for Edmonton.

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