Jan 23, 2011, 1:28 AM EDT
Is the goal slump for Alex Ovechkin finally over? If you had tonight’s game against the Maple Leafs alone to judge it by, the answer would be a resounding, “Yes!” Ovechkin netted a hat trick in helping the Caps knock off the Leafs in Toronto 4-1. Ovechkin’s monster night was buoyed by the play of 21 year-old rookie goalie Braden Holtby who had 35 saves and held Toronto to just a Tim Brent goal on the night in the win.
For Ovechkin, his hat trick was borne from doing things he hasn’t had much success in doing this season: Driving hard to the net. Ovechkin’s first two goals came from rushing the net either from behind it to tip in a shot the way he did on his first goal or by rushing the net head on the way he did on his second goal. Scoring into an empty net for his hat trick-clincher is something every player wishes they could do every night.
Ovechkin has four goals and two assists over his last three games now and if he’s busting out of his goal-scoring slump now, the Caps become one of the more dangerous teams to deal with over the course of the season. The Caps dedication to defense this season has been apparent and the one thing they’ve been missing is consistent production from their top line, most specifically from Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Yes, they’re both still at the top of the team lead in scoring, but they’re not producing at the same rate they were in previous seasons. If those numbers can balloon in the second half of the season, talk of the Caps being a thoroughly legitimate Cup contender will pick up fast.
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