The Washington Times - February 7, 2012, 10:49PM

“Vintage Alex Ovechkin” has almost become a cliché. Whenever the Washington Capitals captain starts looking like his old self, there’s a sense of nostalgia for the days when he could take over games like he flipped a switch.

Tuesday was one of those games, though the keenest part of nostalgia was just the energy in Verizon Center as Ovechkin, sitting on two goals, gunned for the hat trick. It was breathless anticipation for what magic he would do next, and though he never got to goal No. 3, this was one of the star left wing’s best offensive games in recent history.


“I think last two games my conditioning is very good. I said it after Montreal, it was pretty big night for me to come back to feel the hockey again,” Ovechkin said. “Against Boston my conditioning was again pretty good and I kind of feel the puck very well. But I didn’t score. So today, everything was working for me.”

Ovechkin broke a team-wide 0-for-18 power-play drought by driving the net and scoring 9:21 into the first period. He beat Scott Clemmensen five-hole and gave the Caps plenty of breathing room en route to the 4-0 rout of the Florida Panthers.

His second goal was even more of a beauty as Ovechkin sent a curving shot over Clemmensen’s shoulder to put him on the verge of his first hat trick since 2010.

“I have pretty good chances after my second goal, but I just have my goals for next game,” Ovechkin said, flashing some old sense of humor, too.

It was quite a night for Ovechkin’s scoring touch as he notched his fifth two-goal game of the season and first since New Year’s Eve.

“You see him shooting the last goal or even the first one, his release was there and he was skating,” coach Dale Hunter said. “When he’s skating like that, he’s going to get lots of opportunities.”

The intimidation factor was there for Ovechkin when he showed he could cash in on opportunities, too.

“Ovi, he’s a special player. Skilled guys don’t play physical like he does,” Hunter said. “He brings both: Ge can score and he can play physical and you seen tonight that he can really skate and put a lot of heat on their D and their D were backing in pretty good.”