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It was his 11th career hat trick but his first since Jan. 22, 2011 and his first at home since the “Snowmageddon” game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 7, 2010.

It seems strange to think Ovechkin went so long without one.

“You make it seem like hat tricks are scored every other game,” Ward said. “I don’t know; how often you expect him to score hat tricks? But it’s good for him, it’s good for the confidence. But we definitely need him scoring in order to win games.”

Ovechkin had just five goals in his first 16 games before breaking out Saturday against the Devils. He’s now tied with Brouwer for the team lead with eight goals.

Just a day earlier, Ovechkin lamented the puck just not wanting to go in the net Thursday night against New Jersey when the 27-year-old showed flashes of his old self. Saturday it did.

“I think the chances are there, just sometimes feel puck just don’t want to go in,” he said. “Today is that kind of game almost every shot goes in, goes through so it’s kind of nice.”

Coach Adam Oates has seen this coming all along. He praised Ovechkin’s increased chances and more times with the puck on his stick.

“The winning goal, power play, five-on-five on the right side. So a lot of good from him,” Oates said. “Obviously it’s nice to see him rewarded and big goals for us.”