-- Two minutes and 55 seconds into the second period, Alex Ovechkin
completed the challenge.
He had scored at least one goal against the 28 other teams in the NHL, but had been shut out in three previous games against the San Jose Sharks
Ovechkin scored twice in 28 seconds early in the second period Thursday night to stake the Capitals a 3-1 lead en route to a 4-1 victory, their first over the Sharks since Feb. 20, 1999, a span of 12 games.
Ovechkin now has 226 career goals -- and at least one against every NHL team that doesn't call D.C. home.
"Yeah, finally I scored against them," Ovechkin said. "Again, every goal is like the first goal."
It certainly looks that way with the way he celebrates, but Thursday's goals seemed to have some added juice to them. The Capitals, losers of four straight (0-2-2) heading into the game, needed a jolt in a way only No. 8 can provide.
He first scored from the slot off a pretty backhanded saucer pass from new linemate Mike Knuble
. Before the public address announcer had a chance to announce that goal, Ovechkin zoomed to the net and banged home a rebound left in front by Evgeni Nabokov
, who initially stopped Knuble's powerful shot from the right circle.
"Backhand saucer passes aren't my thing, but three or four times they go," Knuble said. "We popped a couple there and that was a big turning point in the game."
"I thought we were a really determined group tonight," added Washington coach Bruce Boudreau
, "and when Alex got those two goals it seemed like a surge of confidence in our group."
You could feel it throughout the building, too.
"If you give him all of those opportunities to shoot, he's going to score eventually," Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic
said. "I think he had 12 attempts at the net in the first period."
Vlasic is dead on.
With the Sharks giving the Caps five power plays, including a pair of short 5-on-3s, Ovechkin shot the puck at the net 12 times over his period-high 9:43 of ice time. Eight went on net, three were blocked and another missed.
He didn't score on any of them and the Caps managed just one goal on 17 shots in the period. They were deadlocked 1-1 after playing a period in which they could have easily been up by three or four goals.
But, as usual, the score at that point didn't seem to matter. When the Capitals needed a lift from their superstar, he was there to answer the call.
It took Ovechkin all of 28 seconds to get his team back on the winning track.
"It's always fun when you get back that winning feeling," Ovechkin said. "They are probably one of the best teams in the NHL and we beat them, so mentally that's very important."
-- Dan Rosen