Edmonton Journal

Ovechkin finds scoring touch after vacation in Dubai


Maybe all it took was riding a camel for Alex Ovechkin to get over the hump after a rough first half of the NHL season.

Fresh off a family trip to Dubai during the Washington Capitals' bye week and the all-star break, Ovechkin scored in all four games to extend his streak to five, his longest in nearly three years.

After just eight goals through his first 43 games, the Russian superstar, captain and face of the franchise has heated up just in time to revive the possibilit­y of breaking Wayne Gretzky's career record that long seemed unapproach­able.

Heading into Tuesday's game against Colorado, Ovechkin had 13 goals to give him 835 — 60 back of passing Gretzky.

Last spring, Ovechkin, 38, became the first player in NHL history to record 40 goals in a season 13 times and was scoring in his midand late-30s like no one since Phil Esposito in the 1970s.

“He's playing at a real high level,” coach Spencer Carbery said. “I feel like he's even skating a little bit more. I feel like there's a little bit more jump in his step.”

Some of that jump seemed to be lacking before the break. As other elite athletes have found out, time remains undefeated, and hockey players rarely age gracefully.

With production not easy to come by team-wide, the Capitals averaged just 2.3 goals through 46 games — the third-lowest in the league. Since Ovechkin's goal streak started, they're scoring 3.6 a game.

“It's a positive, positive step because we need him,” Carbery said. “These are positive things, and you can feel him gaining more confidence as each one goes in and as he gets on a little bit of a roll.”

Ovechkin, who last season passed Gordie Howe for second on the career NHL goals list, said “it's a good thing” when he can put the puck in the net.

Perhaps it's all thanks to Ovechkin going from the ice to the desert during the break. Carbery sure thinks that's possible.

“Traditiona­lly, he's played well in the second half of seasons,” the first-year coach said.

 ?? ?? Alex Ovechkin
Alex Ovechkin

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