Alex Ovechkin scores 250th goal, Capitals rally to beat Penguins 6-3

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The Washington Capitals proved they have what it takes to beat the defending Stanley Cup champions in the regular season. Now they have to figure out how to do it in the playoffs.
Alex Ovechkin scored twice, including his 250th goal, and the streaking Capitals scored the final four goals to beat Sidney Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3 on Thursday night in the first game this season between elite teams led by the NHL's two signature stars.
"We just wanted to win this game, it doesn't matter how," Ovechkin said. "All this group was really concentrating. I think we deserved this win."
The Capitals won their fifth in a row and eighth in nine games and improved to 4-0-1 against Pittsburgh the last two seasons, although the Penguins won when it mattered in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
It was first Capitals-Penguins game since Pittsburgh's 6-2 win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on May 13.
"On the ice, we didn't try to think about Game 7," Ovechkin said of a loss that Washington further regretted after Pittsburgh went on to win the Stanley Cup. "They're an unbelievable team. We want to improve, and we want to gain that spot where they were last year. ... If we do everything that coach (Bruce Boudreau) says, I don't think anyone can stop us."
Elsewhere in the NHL it was: Tampa Bay 3 Toronto 2 (OT); Chicago 3 Calgary 1; Ottawa 3 St. Louis 2; Vancouver 4 Dallas 3; Philadelphia 2 New York Rangers 0; Carolina 5 Atlanta 2; New York Islanders 2 Florida 1 (SO); Columbus 3 Boston 2; Detroit 4 Minnesota 3 (SO); Phoenix 4 Nashville 2; San Jose 3 Anaheim 1; and Los Angeles 4 Buffalo 3 (SO).
At Pittsburgh, Tomas Fleischmann scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period and set up Nicklas Backstrom's breakaway goal less than a minute later for Washington.
Eric Fehr and Mike Knuble also scored as Washington came back from deficits of 1-0 and 3-2 despite Crosby's goal, a revived Evgeni Malkin's three assists and rookie Nick Johnson's goal in his first NHL game.
Wednesday might have been the start of their four-game season series between the teams, but it had a different feel than a mere regular-season game - and not just because Ovechkin and Crosby revived a rivalry that also may play out in the Olympics next month.
"It had the feeling of a playoff game, and that obviously happens with the matchup we have with Sid and Ovechkin," Penguins defenceman Brooks Orpik said. "The intensity was definitely there."
The Capitals seized the lead when Fleischmann grabbed Alexander Semin's chip pass in stride in the neutral zone and scored on a breakaway 2:32 into the third. Bill Guerin drew an interference penalty 27 seconds later, and Backstrom put the puck under the crossbar on an uncontested wraparound created by Fleischmann's pass to make it 5-3 at 3:25, Washington's second power-play goal in as many chances.
In their 23 career meetings, Crosby has 17 goals and 23 assists and Ovechkin has 18 goals and 17 assists - obviously, the two get revved up to play each other. Only this time, it was the secondary cast that turned the game for Washington, which has beaten last season's Stanley Cup finalists, Pittsburgh and Detroit, in a span of three days.
The pace was uptempo from the start, with lots of hitting and considerable booing of Ovechkin, whose knee-to-knee hit put defenceman Sergei Gonchar out of that playoff series.
"It's great," Ovechkin said. "I think the fans love me. They booed me because I'm not on their team."
Washington gained control after Ovechkin tied it at 3 late in the third on a power play with a hard wrist shot from the high slot that goalie Brent Johnson couldn't see as Knuble screened him. Penguins defenceman Kris Letang was off for holding Ovechkin.
After that, Fleischmann's breakaway early in the third significantly quieted the crowd.
"That seemed like a big momentum swing," Orpik said.
There were Olympic overtones, too, with Ovechkin and Malkin teaming up for Russia and Crosby expected to be Canada's biggest name. The teams meet again Feb. 7 in Washington, exactly a week before the players start arriving in Vancouver.
"It's an intense game, emotional, much like Philadelphia and the fans get into it," Crosby said. "You don't like to lose them, but that's why you play the game, for games like that."
Lightning 3 Maple Leafs 2 (OT)
At Tampa, Fla., Martin St. Louis scored a power-play goal with 9.8 seconds left in overtime to lift Tampa Bay past Toronto.
Blackhawks 3 Flames 1
At Calgary, Ben Eager scored the go-ahead goal at 5:52 of the third period, and Antti Niemi made 19 saves as Chicago beat the Flames.
Senators 3 Blues 2
At Ottawa, Peter Regin had a goal and two assists - all on the power play - to help the Senators extend their winning streak to five.
Canucks 4 Stars 3
At Vancouver, Alex Burrows tied it late in the second period, and Christian Ehrhoff put the Canucks ahead five minutes into the third.
Flyers 2 Rangers 0
At Philadelphia, Ray Emery made 24 saves for his second shutout of the season, and James van Riemsdyk and Mike Richards scored as the Flyers blanked the New York Rangers.
Hurricanes 5 Thrashers 2
At Atlanta, Eric Staal scored three goals in his first game since becoming Carolina's captain, and Cam Ward stopped 32 shots to tie Arturs Irbe's franchise record with 130 career victories.
Islanders 2 Panthers 1 (SO)
At Uniondale, N.Y., Matt Moulson scored the decisive goal in a shootout to give New York its straight victory at Nassau Coliseum.
Blue Jackets 3 Bruins 2
At Boston, R.J. Umberger tipped in Anton Stralman's power-play slap shot with 1:16 remaining to give Columbus the comeback victory over the Bruins.
Red Wings 4 Wild 3 (SO)
At St. Paul, Minn., Drew Miller scored his first career shootout goal in the eighth round and Detroit survived the Wild's third-period rally.
Coyotes 4 Predators 2
At Glendale, Ariz., Scottie Upshall scored three goals in the third period, and Ilya Bryzgalov made 41 saves for Phoenix.
Sharks 3 Ducks 1
At San Jose,Calif., Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Rob Blake scored rare goals in the second period and the Sharks beat playoff nemesis Anaheim for the fifth straight time this season.
Kings 4 Sabres 3 (SO)
At Los Angeles, Ryan Smyth scored the tying goal midway through the third period, and Dustin Brown had the deciding goal in a shootout, leading the Kings over Buffalo.

Organizations: Washington Capitals, NHL, Penguins Toronto 2 Chicago 3 Calgary 1 Vancouver 4 Dallas 3 Columbus 3 Boston 2 Detroit 4 Minnesota 3 Phoenix 4 Nashville 2 Canucks Flyers Lightning 3 Maple Leafs 2 Kings New York Rangers Bruins

Geographic location: Washington, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay Ottawa Detroit Vancouver Philadelphia Russia Canada Tampa, Fla. Toronto Calgary Chicago Atlanta Uniondale New York Boston St. Paul, Minn. Glendale, Ariz. Phoenix San Jose,Calif. Anaheim Los Angeles Buffalo

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Recent comments

  • Troy
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    I have watched and played alot of hockey in my day,,I have to say that Alex ovechkin is the most exciting and best player since Gretzky was in his prime,,,I know that Nova Scotians are stuck on Crosby because he is from back home,,,But Ovechkin is absolutely the best player in the NHL today and I think he will be better in years to come. Watching him brings me back to when Gretzky used to make goaltenders and defencemen look silly,,and Ovy does that same thing over and over again.

  • Ron
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Couldn't agree anymore. Ovechkin is exciting to watch