When watching a Capitals game just as a fan, you never take your eyes off Alex Ovechkin. When an opposing team does it? Carnage.
"Let's face it…you can't leave No. 8," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper after Ovechkin exploded for four goals, the last knotting the game in the closing seconds, in a 6-5 shootout win for Washington.
Ovechkin now leads the NHL in goals by a healthy margin after the third four-goal game of his career, and his 13th hat trick. Every one of those scores were necessary in a game where the Capitals kept falling behind—Ovechkin's goals came at 0-3, 2-4, 3-4, and the salvational fourth at 4-5.
First, the hatty:
A slapper off the faceoff. Drifting to the outside to escape B.J. Crombeen's peripheral vision, then darting back-door for the pass. And a one-timer with a huge windup—everyone in the arena knew a shot was coming, but sometimes there's not a damn thing a defense can do about it.
Nothing fancy, and that's vintage Ovie. He won't outskate you, though he can outpace you. He's just a freight-train volume shooter without a conscience, and if he doesn't make his teammates immediately better as does Sidney Crosby, with whom Ovechkin shares nothing but an era, sometimes he can just do it all himself.
Here's Ovechkin's fourth, to tie the game with 32 seconds left. Be sure to watch to the end for his leap-and-dive celebration.
Nights like this, you owe it to yourself to step back and realize you're watching one of the greatest scorers to ever play hockey, in his prime, doing what he was put on ice to do. Give thanks for that, and for the fact that we live in an age when these highlights are easily accessible. Then stop to wonder how anyone's going to stop him in Sochi.