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Ovechkin, Caps Rally from 4-1 Deficit, Extend Streak to 14

Feb 7, 2010 – 4:57 PM
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A.J. Perez

A.J. Perez %BloggerTitle%

WASHINGTON -- The original Alexander the Great didn't have this kind success so early in his rule.

Counting Sunday's 5-4 overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, Alex Ovechkin's tenure as team captain has been nearly flawless. Ovechkin is now 17-1-0 since the promotion, a run that includes the team's current 14-game winning streak, tied for third-longest in NHL history and three behind the all-time mark held by the 1992-93 Penguins.

Along with the "C," Ovechkin also put on the cape here on Sunday. He netted his first hat trick of the season and ninth of his career, a feat that not only helped erase a three-goal deficit but also warmed the cockles of the Capitals fans who braved the aftermath of this weekend's historic blizzard to get to Verizon Center.

"It's about playing as best we can," said Ovechkin, who refused to take credit for the streak or the team's 2-0 record against Sidney Crosby & Co. this season. "With these guys, if something happens, (then) somebody is going to step up and play great."

Crosby scored the first two goals of the game as the Penguins didn't appear to have any ill effects from their circuitous route to Washington. With the area airports closed, the Penguins flew to Newark, N.J., after Saturday's 5-3 loss in Montreal and arrived at 2:30 a.m. Sunday by bus.
"It looked like our guys felt good," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "I don't think it was a factor at all."

The Penguins held a 4-1 lead after Jordan Staal scored his second of the game seven minutes into the second period. Then came three unanswered goals by the Capitals -- one by Eric Fehr and two by Ovechkin -- that accompanied some missed opportunities by the Penguins, including a two-man advantage in which Pittsburgh couldn't solve Caps goalie Jose Theordore.

With the Penguins down a man with a high-sticking and game misconduct penalties whistled against by Brooks Orpik, Ovechkin fired a shot on net that was originally stopped by Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. But then Mike Knuble poked the loose puck into the net for the game winner midway through the overtime period.

"We made a couple of mistakes and they have very good skill out there," Ovechkin said. "So we just come here and know that we still have lots of time to come back and score lots of goals. We just go out there and play."

While Knuble did the dirty work in front of the net to clinch the game, it was Ovechkin who donned the hard hat -- something the team awards for the player who worked the hardest that game -- in the locker room. He received the "C" in much the same way after Ovechkin asked the Capitals' coaching staff to poll the players to see if they wanted him to replace Chris Clark, who was dealt to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Ovechkin received unanimous support.

"Look at him on the ice today. He's obviously our leader," Washington defenseman Brian Pothier said. "He's been the team leader since his first day he came over. His enthusiasm and his energy has not only wore off on other people in this locker room, but the whole culture of the team. We got two feet of snow and this place is still packed."

Ovechkin' has won just about every individual accolade -- including the last two Hart (MVP) and Maurice "Rocket" Richard (most goals) trophies -- since his rookie season of 2005-06. He's signed in Washington through the 2020-21 season, making as much as $10 million per year.

Still, Pothier said the fame -- and the recent promotion to captain -- hasn't changed a thing.

"He was the same person he was when he had the "A" on his sweater," Pothier said
Filed under: Sports