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The Washington Capitals are the first NHL team to get 40 wins this season, after a 4-3 win over the slumping Minnesota Wild Thursday night. Alex Ovechkin was the reason why.

The Capitals’ captain recorded his 14th career hat trick, and scored all three of his goals in the second period. The first was a slick feed from T.J. Oshie; the second was a rebound; and the third was a bounce off the pipe which hit goalie Devan Dubynk’s pads and went in.

Ovechkin’s effort gave him 34 goals for the season, which currently leads the NHL. (Patrick Kane is in second with 33.) It’s no surprise that when Ovechkin does well, the Capitals do, too, but Washington is rolling over its competition. The East is weak, and the division is even weaker: the club has a 17-point lead over the second-place Rangers in the Metropolitan. The Capitals have a history of stalling in the playoffs after cruising through the regular season, but this season could be different. Hopefully.


Photo: AP

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