The spotlight is on Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk when they’re on the ice at the same time.
“We know that in Russia a lot of people watching those games, for sure it gives you a little extra jump and you want to win,” Kovalchuk said.
The Russian stars had that extra jump Saturday afternoon at Verizon Center. Sometimes it’s about the Washington Capitals against the New Jersey Devils, but this time it was Ovechkin against Kovalchuk.
And Ovechkin stole the spotlight with his 11th career hat trick, sparking the Caps’ 5-1 victory that snapped their losing streak and gave them something to feel good about while improving to 6-10-1 on the season.
It was some parts nostalgia with a sprinkle of Ovechkin having something to prove. He entered Saturday with five goals in his first 16 games and needing to drown out pessimism from the outside.
But while rumors of Ovechkin’s demise were printed plenty of places, coach Adam Oates saw this kind of outburst coming. For weeks he pointed to his captain’s increased chances while playing on right wing.
The chances materialized against the Devils, in the form of vintage Ovechkin. He scored a one-timer from the circle, a highlight reel one driving to the net and then from his trademark spot on the power play.
It was Ovechkin’s first hat trick since Jan. 22, 2011 and first four-point game since Feb. 4, 2011. It was his first hat trick at Verizon Center since Feb. 7, 2010, the famous Snowmageddon game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.