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(Saturday, February 23rd)
Final Score: Washington 5, New Jersey 1
Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Alex Ovechkin scored two of Washington's four third-period goals to complete his 11th career hat trick, as the Capitals earned a split of a two-game series against New Jersey with a 5-1 win Saturday at the Verizon Center.
Eric Fehr and Troy Brouwer also scored in the third period for the Capitals, who bounced back from a 3-2 loss to the Devils on Thursday in Washington. A quirk in the shortened schedule forced the teams to play consecutively in the same city.
Mike Ribeiro set up two goals for Ovechkin, who added an assist for a four- point game. Braden Holtby stopped 21 shots for Washington, which blew a 2-1 lead in the third period on Thursday.
Johan Hedberg got the start in net for the Devils after Martin Brodeur won two nights ago and made 21 saves in defeat. Ilya Kovalchuk scored the lone goal for New Jersey, which is 1-2-1 in its last four.
"You have to give (Ovechkin) credit. We know what kind of player he is and if you let him execute, he's going to hurt you and he did," said Hedberg.
Ovechkin snapped a 1-1 tie just 1:23 into the third period with a blistering wrist shot from the right circle. He took a perfect cross-ice feed from Matt Hendricks and fired a laser past Hedberg's blocker.
The Caps took advantage of a Hedberg blunder just over 2 1/2 minutes later to open some breathing room.
With New Jersey on a power play, Hedberg went behind the net to stop the puck and set it up for his defense, but Fehr beat everyone to it and circled around the cage for the easy score.
Ovechkin then completed his hat trick on a Washington power play with 4:47 remaining, taking a feed from Ribeiro and firing a shot from the left circle through New Jersey defenseman Anton Volchenkov and Hedberg for his eighth goal of the season.
Brouwer capped the uprising soon after on another Capitals power play when he re-directed Ovechkin's pass though Hedberg's legs for his eighth goal.
"I kind of figured he was going to shoot it because he's got a hot hand tonight, but he's a good player and sees the ice well and you've got be ready," said Brouwer about Ovechkin's pass.
The Caps had the better of the play in a scoreless first period, outshooting the Devils 11-5. Wojtek Wolski had the best opportunity for Washington with the puck in the crease behind Hedberg, but missed a wide open net.
Ovechkin had a yawning cage 5:20 into the second and didn't miss. Jason Chimera had the puck along the right boards and found a cutting Ribeiro, who quickly sent a pass from the slot to the left circle and a wide open Ovechkin ripped a shot past an out of position Hedberg.
"Our line has good chemistry right now," noted Ovechkin. "(Chimera) knows exactly what he has to do and I know where he's going to be. We are talking before the game and between the periods. And especially with (Ribeiro), who is a guy who can control the puck in the neutral zone."
The Devils had a power play midway through the second and Steve Bernier was taken down by Tom Poti on a breakaway. Bernier was awarded a penalty shot, but came up empty when he tried to beat Holtby through the pads.
New Jersey then tied it with just 38 seconds left in the stanza when Kovalchuk picked up a loose puck near the blue line, skated toward the top of the right circle and snapped a low shot past Holtby on the stick side for his seventh goal.
"I think after two (periods), we had played a decent road game," said Devils coach Pete DeBoer. "We had some opportunities. I thought we carried the chances in the second period and was hoping for another push in the third, and we didn't get that."
Ovechkin's last hat trick was Jan. 22, 2011 against Toronto ... Fehr gave Washington its first short-handed goal of the season ... The Capitals have scored first in seven straight games, but are just 4-3 in that stretch ... Washington played without defenseman Mike Green for a third straight game because of a groin injury ... The Devils had won five straight against the Capitals... New Jersey won this season's series, 2-1 ... Devils rookie Stefan Matteau celebrated his 19th birthday ... The Devils return to New Jersey on Sunday to face Winnipeg.
02/23 15:52:30 ET