Photo courtesy Washington Post
AO had one "bad" night coming back from All Star hangover and then he showed to the World tonight who he is. I am telling you, this young man is the best hockey player ever. Forget about Gretzky or Mario, he is coming at you at asteroid speed to erase their memory, he is only going to get better.
From yesterday article by Red Ficher, the Gazette: "it happened to Ovechkin because the checking line of Bégin, Tom Kostopoulos and Bryan Smolinski wrapped an iron fist around him."
Not tonight... Habs were good and they were scary good, but Ovechkin was out of this World... He had 5 hits at the beginning of the third, the whole team had 14. His open ice hit on Montreal player (Bégin?) in the first was unbelievable, I bet it will be number one hit on NHL network... he gives and he takes... got hit by Bouillon(?). Bouillon put a shoulder in his face, Ovie all blooded from the hit... He goes out and scores three more!
Un [insert expletives] believable...
Update: According to Caps forum in the interview after the game Ovechkin said his nose was broken after that hit. ("After the game in his interview when he said his nose was broken on that hit I was somehow even MORE impressed with his amazing play tonight")
For the first time in his NHL career Ovechkin leads NHL in scoring/points! He also leads NHL in goals and Power Play goals, but that happened before.
Sidney Crosby would never be able to accomplish it. Maybe secondary assists, yes, but that's about it.
I am going to collect all the newspaper articles about this historic game vs. Montreal in this thread, and I have a feeling it's gonna be a big, big thread. So check it out several times, the updates will be coming.
Tarik El-Bashir, Washington Post, Feb. 2 "Capitals Running Out of Superlatives for Ovechkin"
"It was definitely a special game," said Kolzig, who has played 15 seasons in Washington. "He gets high-sticked. He gets an elbow to the nose. The kid can play through anything. I told him [on the ice after the game] that he's the best player I've ever played with."
Ovechkin was among a handful of a players who opted not to practice, preferring instead to rest up after a physical contest that left his nose slightly off-kilter and his cheek and bottom lip swollen.
"Every game is special for me," he said. "Especially in our situation because we have opportunity to move forward. . . . The fans were excited. The team was excited. I was excited, too."
Boudreau said Ovechkin was angered when he was inadvertently struck on the face by Alex Kovalev's stick in the opening minute, and he fed off that emotion for the remainder of the contest.
"Taking the abuse that he took, and the coverage that he took, it was quite an amazing feat," said Boudreau, who has spent three decades in the game as a player and coach. "He's definitely a unique person and a unique athlete. Every sport has those that rise to the occasion, [New England Patriots quarterback] Tom Brady being the latest. I'm very lucky to get to watch him from the bench every night."
Teammate Nicklas Backstrom paused for a moment and then grinned when asked what it was like to skate alongside Ovechkin.
"He was doing everything in the game," Backstrom said of his close friend and linemate. "He get some hits, a broken nose, and I don't know what else, something in his face. Then he scores four goals and one assist. That's pretty good. He can do everything on his own. He showed that last night. I'm not surprised. It's amazing. It's unbelievable."
Backstrom was the first to greet Ovechkin after he scored the winner with 1 minute 26 seconds remaining in overtime. But he forgot about Ovechkin's nose. Ovechkin tried to avoid Backstrom's shoulder, but couldn't.
"Everybody knew I broke my nose," Ovechkin said. "But somebody hug me, and hit again my nose. It's pretty funny."
Defenseman Jeff Schultz, who set up Ovechkin's winner in the extra session with a deft pass, added, "It was so exciting to be out there and witness it from the ice, with him."
Ovechkin celebrated his career night by meeting Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko, a fellow Russian and close friend, for dinner downtown. Ovechkin, a big basketball fan, said he planned to attend last night's game between the Jazz and Washington Wizards at Verizon Center for a little fun.
Kolzig cracked that Ovechkin's NBA-size contract extension -- a record 13-year, $124 million deal -- wasn't enough for a player of his ability.
"I was joking around with Ted and George, and I told them, 'You got him at a bargain,' " Kolzig said, referring to owner Ted Leonsis and General Manager George McPhee. "He's just a terrific, terrific player."
From NHL.com Feb 1: "Ovechkin, Dumont and Huet named NHL 'Three Stars' for January"
NEW YORK -- Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, Nashville Predators forward J.P. Dumont and Montreal Canadiens goaltender Cristobal Huet have been named the NHL's 'Three Stars' for the month of January.
FIRST STAR -- ALEX OVECHKIN, WASHINGTON CAPITALS
Ovechkin led all NHL scorers in January with 22 points (13 goals, 9 assists) in 13 games and recorded a +9 rating as the Capitals won nine games during the month. Ovechkin recorded points in 10 of 13 games, including a four-goal, one-assist effort in the Capitals 5-4 win against Montreal on Jan. 31. The four-goal game was his second of the season (Dec. 29 vs. Ottawa). Ovechkin took over the League lead in points (70) and goals (43) during the month. He has registered points in 32 of his last 36 games, averaging nearly a goal-per game during that stretch (34-20--54).
SECOND STAR -- J.P DUMONT, NASHVILLE PREDATORS
THIRD STAR -- CRISTOBAL HUET, MONTREAL CANADIENS
From AOL Fan House, Feb. 2:
I've been trying to figure out how to describe Alexander Ovechkin's performance tonight and there's really no easy way. First off, the guy went out and scored a hat trick and an assist in the first 48 minutes, single-handedly keeping his team in the game. But what's a great show without an encore? To be a real showman, you have to finish the job. So, in the true spirit of any great performer he comes back and, oh I don't know, scores the game winning goal in overtime. Yup, Ovechkin helped put the Caps in front by a 4-2 margin, and when they couldn't hold that lead, went ahead and buried the Canadiens on his own.
Now don't get me wrong, Ovechkin had a lot of help from his teammates. There were some great passes in there, but when you contribute on the score sheet to each one of your team's five goals, that's saying something. No, wait. That's making a big [bleeping] statement.
Mike Wise, The Washington Post, Feb. 1 "A Night to Remember"
Ovechkin now leads the National Hockey League in scoring with 70 points, and essentially completed a hat trick plus one after he broke his nose for the fifth time in his young career.
"How badly did it hurt?" he was asked of the hit that fractured his schnoz. "It's fifth time broke my nose, so it's okay," he said in the halting English of any young Russian kid happy to come to America and sign a contract for $124 million. "I get used to it."
"It look bigger, yeah?" he added.
"Yeah, it's swollen," a reporter replied.
It is an expressive nose, flattened, expansive. It's as if Ovechkin borrowed it from brawler Carmen Basilio, circa 1950. Or Karl Malden, 1970. Ovie's nose doesn't belong to his face; his face belongs to it.
It was the first time the kid scored more than two goals at home, and the occasion seemed to numb the pain.
"I try it all the time, but today was special day," he said. "I broke my nose, I have stitches, I score four goals."
This was a bit of a character-test game. Montreal, another young team scrapping for a postseason berth, was the perfect measuring stick for Washington. The Canadiens thoroughly beat the Caps on Tuesday night in Montreal, and Ovechkin and every line Boudreau sicced on the Canadiens responded at home 48 hours later.
Who knows where the Caps go from here, but this isn't just a good Washington story; the Caps are clearly becoming one of the best tales in the NHL.
Think about it: Boudreau, who was coaching in Hershey about two months ago, suddenly has taken the wraps off a nearly finished product. He comes along at a time when one of those once-in-a-millennium players has graced his roster, and he's not afraid to tell the kid to shoot from the point and worry about defense later.
"I was blessed to come along at a time when Alex is here," he said last night in the Verizon Center hallway. "It's no different than Glen Sather with a young Wayne Gretzky or Michel Therrien with Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh. We all watched greatness at different times and you're seeing it now.
"Sometimes good fortune follows you," he said.
And sometimes it rifles in a puck in overtime, sending the crowd into loud and sustained applause, knocking off Montreal and making up for all the depressing losses and the bad remnants from a lockout. It was just one of those majestic nights.
From LCS Hockey by Michael Menser Dell, Feb. 1 "Ovechkin overpowers Habs"
Two days after getting shut out by Cristobal Huet and the Montreal Canadiens, Alexander Ovechkin got a measure of revenge, ripping the Habs for four goals in a 5-4 OT win in Washington. AO's fourth goal came at 3:34 of the extra session, as he converted a sweet Jeff Schultz pass (yes, that Jeff Schultz) behind Huet to send the Caps faithful into hysterics. Ovechkin gave an understated wave to the crowd and calmly skated back to the dressing room, maintaining an air of royal dignity the entire time. Well, not really, but imaginations are fun.
But in case you're wondering, you really can't tell whether Ovechkin just scored his fourth goal in overtime or found an old sock in the dryer. The reactions are pretty much the same. He's an excitable boy. He actually didn't do his trademark leap into the glass, opting instead to make a mad dash to celebrate with his teammates. He then rushed home to have sex with supermodels on large piles of money. And I realize he doesn't need the cash, but Ovechkin is a Windex ad waiting to happen. He spends more time pressed against glass than Darren Pang outside Wayne Gretzky's bedroom window.
It was Ovechkin's second four-goal game of the season, with the first coming December 29 in Ottawa. He now leads the league with 43 goals in 52 games, giving him a commanding 11-goal lead over Daniel Alfredsson and Jarome Iginla in the Richard Trophy race. Ilya Kovalchuk is actually second with 38 goals, but it might be a while before he scores another one. More on that later. But Ovechkin's five-point effort against the Habs gives him a league-leading 70 points, which is two more than Alfredsson and Vincent Lecavalier. With Kid Crosby out of the scoring race, anything's possible, but I'd still give the nod to Vinny in the Art Ross hunt.
Ovechkin is making that contract extension look pretty shrewd. Since signing the massive 13-year, $124-million pact on January 12, the Russian sniper has scored goals in seven of nine contests, collecting 11 goals and 18 points during the nine-game span.
The destruction of Montreal was vintage Ovechkin. He was all over the ice, displaying his power and speed on every shift. His goals ran the gamut of awesomeness, scoring with a wicked one-timer from the left circle, a roof shot in tight, a laser rocket wrister from the slot on the rush, and a nifty tap from the lip of the crease. And when he wasn't lighting the lamp, Ovechkin was lighting up Habs, blasting Francois Bouillon and Steve Begin with thunderous checks.
Ovechkin has single-handedly carried the Caps back into the playoff picture. The Hart Trophy is his to lose.
From Japer's Rink, Feb. 1:
AO leads the League in goals, points, power play goals and shots, is one off the pace in game-winners, gets more ice time than any forward in the League who isn't coached by John Tortorella, is 21st in the NHL in plus-minus, fifth among forwards in hits and ninth in takeaways. He's had a four-goal game in each of the last two months and hasn't gone three games without a goal all season (only thrice has he been held goal-less in back-to-back games).
All the more amazing, with 70 points on the season, he has factored in 45% of the Caps' 154 goals. In other words, teams know that if they can shut down Alex Ovechkin, they can beat the Caps. Easier said than done, of course...
From OnFrozenBlog, Feb. 1:
- Comcast’s Lisa Hillary asked Ovie if Tuesday night’s disappointment fueled his outburst tonight. Not so much, apparently. “My girlfriend [I knew] was coming,” he said, beaming. “That’s why,” he added chuckling.
- Olie Kolzig: “I think I might set a record for lowest save percentage with a winning record.”
- Gabby on Ovie: “He’s an amazing person.”
- “What was going through your mind when they tied it?” the head coach was asked. “Exactly what was going through my mind was we’ve been up 3-0 four times and they’ve come back to tie it … but we’ve won every game. That’s the first thing I thought of. So I said, we’re, ok!” [press room erupts in laughter]
- More Gabby: “I thought it was a game we absolutely dominated the first 30, 35 minutes. They only had 9 shots … Coaches have always said get a hit early and get into the game, and he [Ovechkin] loves the challenges and you could see him going after Komisarek more than Komisarek was going at him. That’s a big boy, and when you play as much as Alex does, I mean, it doesn’t seem to tire him, and that’s good for the Capitals.”
By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 1, 2008;
Alex Ovechkin's night began with him lying face down on the ice after being whacked unintentionally across the face by Alex Kovalev's stick, a blow that opened a wound on the inside of his cheek.
It ended with the Washington Capitals all-star sitting atop the NHL in points for the first time in his stellar three-season career after scoring four goals, including the winner in overtime, to lift the Capitals to 5-4 victory at Verizon Center and strengthen his candidacy for the Hart Trophy, given to the league's MVP.
Along the way, his nose was also broken by Francis Bouillon's shoulder check, and an errant puck left him bleeding on the inside of his lower lip.
"Today was special day," said Ovechkin, who has scored three or more goals four times in his career, but not at home until last night's scintillating performance. "I broke my nose, I have stitches, I score four goals. Everything go to my face. It's the fifth time I broke my nose. It's okay."
"He's an amazing person," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Don't get him angry."
His goal in overtime made sure he and his teammates didn't go home that way.
The Capitals took a 4-3 lead into the final minute of play, but Canadiens winger Guillaume Latendresse jammed a loose puck from underneath Washington goalie Olie Kolzig (17 saves) with 33 seconds remaining in regulation to steal a point and force overtime. Montreal had pulled goaltender Cristobal Huet for a sixth attacker.
Ovechkin, however, secured both points in the standings for the Capitals when he fired a rebound past Huet (33 saves) with 1 minute 26 seconds remaining in the extra session. Defenseman Jeff Schultz sent a pass to Ovechkin, who whiffed on the first attempt but got all of the second.
"Ovie plays with an edge, and you know the saying, 'Don't wake up a sleeping giant?' Not saying Ovie sleeps every night, but he threw it into an extra gear" after being slashed by Kovalev, Kolzig said.
"We don't have the consistency of the Detroit Red Wings or anything, but when we put our mind to it and play the way we're supposed to play, we're pretty tough to beat," Boudreau said.
Ovechkin was slashed across the left side of his face by Kovalev's high stick 55 seconds in. He remained on the ice for about a minute but stayed in the game. When he returned to the ice, Ovechkin was angry. The powerful winger, who in addition to being one of the game's most dangerous goal scorers is also one of its best hitters, crushed Montreal's Steve Begin in open ice with a shoulder check. It was the first of Ovechkin's five hits, and it came moments before his first goal.
"Alex's game was excellent," Kozlov said. "Hitting people, passing, scoring. I don't know what other forwards could do that."
PAT HICKEY, The Gazette Published: Friday, February 01, 2008, "Ovechkin buries Canadiens"
It's hard to keep a good man down.
Alexander Ovechkin proved that last night as he led the Washington Capitals to a 5-4 overtime win over the Canadiens.
Ovechkin fell to the ice and lay there after he was hit in the face by an errant high stick wielded by Alex Kovalev during the first minute of the game.
But Ovechkin, who later had his nose bloodied by Francis Bouillon, showed why he's one of the most dangerous - and toughest - players in the National Hockey League as he scored four goals, including the overtime winner at 3:34. Ovechkin, who leads the NHL with 43 goals, also assisted on the Caps' other goal by Viktor Kozlov.
"He was frustrated because we shut him down last game, and we knew he was going to be ready," Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau said of Ovechkin. "He made great plays on two of the goals, but we had breakdowns on the other two."
Carbonneau said his players had to be aware of Ovechkin at all times, but that advice went unheeded as the Caps grabbed a 1-0 lead at 13:06 of the opening period.
CBSSports.com: Ovechkin scores four times, including OT, to lead Caps past Habs
WASHINGTON -- The Capitals' Alex Ovechkin broke his nose, needed stitches in his lip after getting hit with a puck and then showed the Montreal Canadiens the true meaning of the word tough.
The battered Ovechkin, who also sported a cut below his eye from a high stick on Tuesday night, scored his fourth goal of the night with 1:26 left in overtime to give the Washington Capitals a 5-4 victory against the Canadiens on Thursday night.
Ovechkin tied career highs with four goals and five points, but the last one was the biggest. He took a crossing pass from Jeff Schultz and beat Montreal goalie Cristobal Huet from in front for the overtime goal.
"Today was a special day," Ovechkin said with a smile. "I broke my nose, have stitches (and) score four goals. Everything (went) to my face."
He broke his nose when he was sent hard into the boards by Montreal defenseman Francis Bouillon.
Ovechkin's fourth career hat trick was his first at home. It was Ovechkin's second career four-goal and five-point game -- he also did it Dec. 29 at Ottawa. Ovechkin leads the NHL with 43 goals and took over the points lead with 70. It's the first time he has been the league leader in scoring.
"We scored five, and he was in on all five," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "So, how can you say enough about him? He's an amazing person."
"The way Ovie scored the goals today, he's pretty amazing," linemate Kozlov said. "Alex's game is excellent, excellent. Hitting people, passing, scoring. I don't know what else forwards could do."
"In the third period, we came back again, but Ovechkin was too strong," said Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau.
From DC Pro Sports "Alexander the Great Gets Revenge"
The win was absolutely critical for the Capitals give that Carolina defeated Toronto 3-2 in OT and the NY Rangers defeating Philadelphia 4-0.
The Caps remain 3 points behind Carolina for the Southeast division lead and 3 points behind the Rangers for the 8th playoff spot.
With Ovechkin’s 4 goals, he now has 43 goals on the season, now leading the NHL overall by 5. BUT, even further, Ovechkin took the NHL overall lead in points tonight with 70 points, 2 more than Vincent Lecavalier.
Player of the game: Alexander Ovechkin, 4 Goals, 1 Assist, 5 Points, +4 Rating
From Washington Examiner (AP): Ovechkin lifts the Capitals to 5-4 overtime win over Canadiens
Ovechkin finished with four goals and one assist for five points, but the last one was the biggest. He took a crossing pass from Jeff Schultz and beat Montreal goalie Cristobal Huet from in front for the overtime goal.
It was Ovechkin's second career four-goal and five-point game. He did it on Dec. 29 at Ottawa. Ovechkin came into the game leading the NHL with 39 goals, and third with 65 points, three behind Daniel Alfredsson of Ottawa and two behind Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier.
Ovechkin was one of several Capitals who were very aggressive on the ice from start to finish as Washington was apparently angered by how the Canadiens tried to score in the final minute of Tuesday's game in Montreal despite having a four-goal lead.
The All-Star scored Washington's first, third, fourth and fifth goals. He also assisted on Viktor Kozlov's goal. Kozlov finished with a goal and two assists.
Les Glorieux | MVN By Ryan Szporer: Habs drop overtime decision to Alexander Ovechkin (and only Alexander Ovechkin)
Saying Ovechkin was the difference in this game (a 5-4 Montreal OT loss to Washington on the road) is like saying Osama bin Laden had a little to do with 9/11.
I mean, he carried the Caps in this one. On his back, on his shoulders, right to left, front to back, to and fro, any which way you like, Ovechkin was there at every single turn…like in OT for example, when he scored the game-winning goal, taking a Jeff Schultz pass from the other side of the crease, him having just received the puck from a pinching Mike Green. Ovechkin got two cracks at the puck (in fact, it’s safe to say Montreal starter Cristobal Huet could have made the save; that is, if he had not been frozen in fearful intimidation of the Gr8 One, tired of having played scapegoat to his freaky antics all night long). On the second whack, Ovechkin won the game for the surging Caps and put an end to an entertaining night of hockey overall.
It’s hard to not give credit where credit is due. I mean Ovechkin not only rocked Montreal’s boat. He overturned it completely time and again on this night. He first got Washington on the board (a one-timer from Milan Jurcina in the first period). He gave Washington a seemingly unsurmountable 3-0 lead (in close on Huet, in the second period, care of a between-the-legs-of-Roman-Hamrlik pass from Viktor Kozlov) and gave them a 4-2 lead (a super-amazing, off-the-wall, incredible, insert-next-adjective-here shot that cleanly beat a screened-by-Mark-Streit Huet top corner in the third period) just as Montreal had gotten back in the game. So, to conclude, Ovechkin=amazing. Montreal=less so.
...You have to expect that tomorrow morning, though, everyone will be talking about how good Ovechkin would look in Habs jersey.
Habs’ player of the game: Guillaume Latendresse; Two goals, one assist…His star has been stuck in neutral for some time, but it rose a whole lot tonight. His future is now looking the brightest it ever has.
Habs’ goat of the game: Cristobal Huet; He played well enough, but he screwed up on Ovechkin’s game-winner. Not to sound greedy, but the Habs definitely could have won in a shootout against an aging Olaf Kolzig. If only they could have gotten there, though.
Caps’ player of the game: Do you need to ask? Seriously, man. Don’t be clueless.
Caps’ goat of the game: Olaf Kolzig; I keep asking, but no one ever answers me…didn’t this dude win the Vezina Trophy one year?
new contract: $124,000,000.00
new haircut: $14.00
making team to win absolutely crucial game by scoring in OT: PRICELESS
Please read continued flow of reaction on this game in "Ovechkin's game the stuff of legend""