The Washington Times - January 8, 2012, 12:18PM

SAN JOSE, Calif. | Brad Winchester has to hit. For a grinder like him, making an impact on the game is essential when goals aren’t how his success is measured.

But when the San Jose Sharks forward took a couple runs at Washington Capitals players on Saturday night, captain Alex Ovechkin had enough.

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At 7:27 of the third period Winchester laid a big hit on winger Alexander Semin in Washington’s defensive zone. Ovechkin took exception to the play, going after Winchester.

“He almost got me before that, a couple seconds [earlier],” Ovechkin said after the Caps’ 5-2 loss. “Then he got Semin. I was trying to protect my teammate, so I tried.”

Winchester was penalized for charging, but a potential Caps power play was negated by Ovechkin’s retaliation. Coach Dale Hunter didn’t have a problem with his captain doing that, citing Ovechkin not realizing a penalty had been called.

“It’s a fine line. It’s like one of those things where you’ve got to stand up for your teammates. I don’t know if he knew it was a penalty either, though,” Hunter said. “It wasn’t fair to him; the guy called it from the red line and he didn’t see it.”

Asked if he thought it was a dirty hit, Ovechkin said: “No, it was I think good hit, but I think he makes a couple more extra steps. It’s kind of situation when you have step up for the other guys.”

On the ensuing four-on-four, the Sharks took advantage of a defensive blunder by the Caps to make it a 4-2 game and all but seal their fourth straight win and the end of Washington’s four-game streak.