Slump busted? Alex Ovechkin nets hat trick as Capitals beat Leafs 4-1

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.

Kings, NHLPA announce settlement in Richards grievance

Los Angeles Kings v New York Rangers

The Los Angeles Kings announced today that they have “reached an agreement with Mike Richards to resolve the grievance filed in relation to the termination of his NHL Standard Players Contract. The terms are agreeable to all parties.”

The club said that it will not be commenting further “on the terms” of the settlement.

The NHLPA released a similar statement.

It was reported earlier in the week that a settlement was close to being reached; however, it wasn’t clear what salary-cap penalties the Kings would incur.

We’re starting to find out some details now:

How the final numbers differ from what the Kings would have incurred if they’d bought Richards out will be interesting to see. And if there are differences, how will they be justified?

Stay tuned.

Report: Ex-NHLer Aaron Ward arrested for ‘assault on a female’ (Updated)

Brad May, Kevin Hodson, Jiri Fischer, Aaron Ward

Aaron Ward, a 16-year NHL veteran that appeared in over 800 career games, has been arrested for “assault on a female,” per WNCN.

Ward was arrested on Friday in Cary, North Carolina and also charged with interfering with emergency communication, according to the report.

Currently working as an analyst for TSN, Ward spent five years of his career in Carolina, helping the ‘Canes capture the Stanley Cup in 2006.

Update: Per WRAL, Ward’s wife called 9-1-1 after the two had a confrontation around 1 p.m. ET. Police confirmed Ward was arrested at his home in Cary.

According to the warrant for his arrest, he took away his wife’s phone.

Because of the nature of his charges, Ward will spend a mandatory 48 hours in the Wake County jail. Anyone arrested on a domestic violence charge is held for 48 hours before bail is set.

And here’s a statement from TSN: