As the Capitals took to the ice in Ottawa to open the season against the Senators, Alex Ovechkin was serenaded to chants of “Ovi sucks!” from the Senators faithful.
The Great 8 silenced the critics on Thursday, however, with a hat trick performance that reminded us all just how dangerous a scorer he can be.
Down 3-1 in the third period, it looked like the game was getting away from the Capitals.
But the man who many wondered would ever be the scoring threat he once was responded with three goals to put the Caps right back in it.
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Evgeny Kuznetsov was able to steal away a pass from Ottawa defenseman Cody Ceci deep in the offensive zone. He fed the pass across to Alex Ovechkin in the office. Goalie Craig Anderson was already down in the butterfly giving Ovechkin all the room he needed up top to net the goal.
Just 83 seconds later, the forecheck from the Ovechkin line again forced Ottawa into a turnover. Ovechkin chipped the puck at the blue line to Jakub Vrana who drove it in. He fed Evgeny Kuznetsov backside who fed it right back to the trailing Ovechkin for the easy goal.
A disappointing 3-1 game turned into a 3-3 tie in less than two minutes.
Mark Stone almost spoiled the party with a goalie 77 seconds later to give Ottawa back the lead, but Ovechkin would not be denied.
Vrana and Kuznetsov converged into the corner of the offensive zone in a battle for the puck. When the puck did finally squirt loose Ovechkin pounced on it and snapped a shot from the top of the faceoff circle that beat Anderson to complete the hat trick, the 18th of his career.
It was a fitting performance for Ovechkin who made his NHL 12 years ago on the very same day, scoring twice against the Columbus Blue Jackets to announce his presence in the NHL. Just when people began to wonder if Ovechkin was on the decline after scoring 33 goals last season, Ovechkin made it known he remains very much one of the top scoring threats in the NHL.