By DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA, Nov. 6, 2008 "Sens rookie checks in":
Rattling Ovechkin 'pretty cool' for Winchester".
"It should be the goal of every coach in this league to get the other team's offensive guys frustrated."
As such, Jesse Winchester scored a big one in the 2-1 overtime victory that sends the Senators into tonight's home game against the Flyers with their first .500 record (5-5-2) in weeks. Not by putting the puck in the net or even setting up a goal, but by getting under the skin of Alex Ovechkin.
A key to the win was the part played by the Daniel Alfredsson-Mike Fisher-Winchester line in shutting down the vaunted Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-Viktor Kozlov unit. While Alfredsson and Fisher combined on the deciding goal, Winchester and Ovechkin had an on-going feud.
"We just battled all night," Winchester said yesterday. "I think our line's job was to frustrate them. He took a few good shots at me and I just tried to let him know that I'd take it all night. Luckily we came out on top, and I was happy to get involved in that kind of thing.
"I just enjoyed it. He's obviously one of the best players in the world, and to be able to rattle him, it was pretty cool."
One second-period incident followed a skirmish that saw Winchester on the receiving end of shots from a couple of defenders. As the players skated to their benches, Ovechkin and Winchester exchanged words. When they parted ways, Ovechkin gave Winchester what appeared to be a playful cuff to the back of the head.
On their next shift, Ovechkin took an interference penalty when he nailed Winchester at centre ice.
In the third, Ovechkin waved his stick under Winchester's nose.
Winchester, who had just 51 penalty minutes in 40 NCAA games last season, also invited Ovechkin to drop the gloves. Ovechkin just laughed and reminded Winchester of his first-year status.
"He's pretty comical," said Winchester. "I actually enjoyed some of the lines he threw at me. They were pretty witty. You don't want to laugh on the ice, but he's a pretty solid character.
"I have the utmost respect for a guy like him. I don't think it's a one-man job ... it takes five guys to shut down a guy like that. But I'm happy to be able to play a little bit of a role in that ... hopefully we can keep going and shutting down more lines.
"We were just exchanging a few words and he tried to make me aware that I was still a rookie, but it's all part of it, and it's fun," Winchester added.
"So far, he's obviously had the better of me, in that collision, but he's just playing hard and doing what he has to do. Hopefully I can be on the better end of the hit some time."
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