Ovechkin and Capitals On Upward Trajectory

APOvechkin celebrating his first goal with Semin in Washington on Monday.
WASHINGTON -- Alex Ovechkin insists he cares far more about turning the Washington Capitals into winners than accumulating personal statistics. He's managing to do both at the moment.

The reigning Calder Trophy winner as the NHL's top rookie scored twice to help overcome an early three-goal deficit, and Chris Clark netted the winner in overtime, leading the Capitals past the Ottawa Senators 4-3 on Monday night.

"My goal is not to score 52 goals, 56 goals," Ovechkin said. "My goal is to play hard, try to help the team win."

Things didn't look good for Washington at the outset: Ottawa took a 3-0 lead inside 12 minutes, chasing Capitals goalie Olaf Kolzig. But by the end of the night, the Senators were coping with a four-game losing streak.

"The guys were working so hard to protect the lead that we forgot about attacking," Senators coach Bryan Murray said. "You can't hold on all night."

The Capitals have won consecutive games for the first time this season. They improved to 6-4-4 for 16 points, tied for second in the Southeast Division.

After beating the Flyers in Philadelphia on Saturday night to stop a 16-game winless drought, the Capitals ended an eight-game winless skid when hosting Ottawa.

"We're getting better all the time," Ovechkin said.

So, too, is he. The Russian wing has four straight multipoint games to raise his season total to 18 points through 14 games, three points ahead of his pace in 2005-06, when he wound up with 106.

"He just seems to come through," Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said. "For a determined guy, he seems to be even more determined when it gets down to the nitty-gritty."

Ovechkin's first goal brought Washington to 3-2 in the second period, and he tied the score with 24.4 seconds left in regulation on a power-play goal from a seemingly impossible angle. Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips was whistled for tripping with 1 minute, 3 seconds to play, only the sixth penalty of the game.

Asked how he managed to squeeze the puck past goalie Martin Gerber, Ovechkin shrugged and said, "I don't know. It doesn't matter."

Clark then scored 1:33 into the extra period off an assist from Alexander Semin, who also assisted on both of Ovechkin's goals.

Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Antoine Vermette scored for the Senators during the early spurt, which prompted Hanlon to call timeout and replace Kolzig with backup Brent Johnson.

"I don't know if the change necessarily woke up the team, but I think just being embarrassed ... might have woken guys up," said Kolzig, who faced five shots in his shortest outing since March 2003. "If we didn't straighten things away, it could have been a blowout. [Johnson] came in and settled things down, and we chipped away."

Johnson stopped all 21 shots he faced, allowing Washington to improve to 1-5 in one-goal games this season.

"I don't like a coach saying, 'Well, we had to take him out to change the momentum,' or anything. For whatever reason, tonight it felt like it was the thing to do," Hanlon said about making the goalie switch. "There was no panic, and there was no feeling that this game was out of control. We all felt to a man that we were going to come back and win."