OTTAWA - Alex Ovechkin is used to having good nights - but Saturday was particularly special.
Ovechkin had a career-high four goals and added an assist as the Washington Capitals upset the Ottawa Senators 8-6 Saturday night.
"It was a great night for me and we won the game," said Ovechkin, who seemed a little in awe of the overflow crowd of 20,296 at Scotiabank Place. "It was a fun game for everybody and the atmosphere was unbelievable. It was packed."
Michael Nylander added two goals while Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom chipped in a goal and two assists apiece for the Capitals (15-19-5), who won for the just the second time in their past six games.
The Senators (25-9-4), who saw their three-game winning streak come to an end, got three goals from Mike Fisher, all in a wild third period in which seven goals were scored. Daniel Alfredsson had two goals, including one on a penalty shot, while Jason Spezza had the other.
"We had a chance late and we didn't give up, so I guess that's one of the positives," Fisher said. "Defensively we've got to be better and definitely smarter."
Trailing 5-2 in the third, the Senators pulled to within a goal three times, but Ovechkin iced the game with an empty netter with 28 seconds to play. The five points were also a career high for Ovechkin, whose 30 goals are second in the league to Atlanta Thrashers forward Ilya Kovalchuk (32). Twice Ovechkin has scored three times in a game during his NHL career.
"Everybody had lots of points and it's good for fans but not for the goalies," said Ovechkin, who added that his 180-foot empty net goal was an easy shot.
"I had the puck, I had space and the two defenceman were at the blue-line so I had a straight shot. It was easy."
Coach Bruce Boudreau marvelled at Ovechkin's performance.
"When he's going like that and making moves on great defenceman and the puck seemed to stay with him all night, I mean, it's been a young time in my tenure here, but the guy sort of amazes me," Boudreau said.
Three second-period goals by the Capitals seemed to give them control of the game. Ovechkin converted a perfect give-and-go with defenceman Tom Poti to give the Capitals a 3-1 lead at 3:13.
After Nylander scored a power-play goal three-and-a-half minutes later to extend the Caps' lead to 4-1, Alfredsson scored on a penalty shot to pull the Senators to within two goals. Backstrom restored the three-goal cushion with 2.6 seconds left in the period.
"They had some shifts in our end where we were standing around watching them. You've got to be physical on them and take away their time because they've definitely got the skill if you let them work it down there," said Senators defenceman Wade Redden, who had three assists.
The Capitals opened a 2-0 lead in the opening five minutes of the first period. Semin took advantage of a Senators' miscue when Chris Phillips and goaltender Martin Gerber both left the puck behind the night allowing Semin to score into an empty net from his knees on a wraparound just a minute into the game.
Ovechkin was given all the time and space he need to move in from the point and beat Gerber on the power play at 4:45 for a 2-0 advantage.
"It was frustrating and disappointing and it didn't look like our hockey team for most of the game the way we played. We were pretty bad," said Fisher.
Alfredsson got the Senators on the board with more of a billiards shot than a hockey goal. Down 2-0 and on the power play, Alfredsson attempted a cross-ice pass but the puck deflected off the stick of Washington forward David Steckel and then the hand of Poti before trickling across the line behind Capitals netminder Olaf Kolzig.
Notes: The eight-goal outburst was the Capitals' largest single-game output since trouncing the Florida Panthers 12-2 on Jan. 11, 2003. ... Ovechkin's first-period goal extended his point streak to six gamesThe Senators compiled a 52-16-12 record over the 2007 calendar yearFinishing the month of December with a 7-3-3 record, the Capitals posted their first month over .500 since going 4-3-4 in October 2006Jason Spezza is on a 10-game points streak.