Alex Ovechkin couldn’t be much hotter right now. Fresh off Saturday’s hat trick, Ovechkin had a stunning 13 goals in his last 11 games going into Sunday’s game against Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Stamkos had a two goal edge on Ovechkin going into this contest. However, Stamkos was silenced by Washington Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth while Ovechkin netted the Capitals’ first goal of the game.
You can see Ovechkin’s 24th goal of the season below:
Ovechkin then tied Stamkos in the Rocket Richard Trophy race with an empty netter that finalized Washington’s 4-2 victory.
It was Ovechkin’s first empty net goal of the season, which ties him with Stamkos in that regard.
Since the NHL started awarding the Rocket Richard Trophy in 1998–99, no player has ever won it three times. However, Ovechkin and Stamkos have both won the award twice.
The 27-year-old Capitals captain has effectively bounced back from two “off” years, where he was still one of the league’s better scorers, but didn’t live up to the high standards he’s held to.
Ovechkin credited coach Adam Oates for his resurgence.
“It’s trust. That’s what I don’t have last year,” Ovechkin said, according to the Washington Post’s Katie Carrera. “When you have that kind of feelings you just want to go out there, play for your team for your coach and do your best.”
Oates demonstrated that trust by allowing Ovechkin to play late into a close game.
Ovechkin’s rise has also helped the Washington Capitals overcome their early season struggles. With Sunday’s win they now have a two point lead over the Winnipeg Jets in the Southeast Division race.