Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin could have been forgiven had he suffered a bit of a hangover this season after winning his first Stanley Cup at age 32.
Especially after the hockey world watched him party his way through the summer on social media.
But it doesn’t seem to have affected Ovechkin, who has taken his game to another level.
Ovechkin recorded a hat trick in a second consecutive game Friday to extend his point streak to 13 games in Washington’s 6-5 overtime win at Carolina.
He leads the NHL with 28 goals, five more than Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine, entering Saturday’s games.
“He came back after winning the Stanley Cup, and he was ready to go from Day One,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden told the Washington Post. “And he hasn’t stopped since.”
Ovechkin became the 14th player in NHL history and first since 2001 to record a hat trick in consecutive team games on multiple occasions. It was the 22nd hat trick of his career.
“First shot, it’s a goal,” Ovechkin said. “Then you’re like, OK, you have 60 minutes, maybe you’re going to score again. But you never know what’s going to happen.”
Ovechkin has scored a goal in five straight games, two shy of a career-high stretch of seven straight set in his rookie year of 2006.
He’s on pace for his best season in a decade.
“I don’t know what to say,” Ovechkin said. “I just try to do my job. Everybody tries to score goals, and everybody wants to score goals. In this league, it’s hard to do that. I’m pretty lucky. I play with great players, and they set me up. I just have to do my job.”
The Golden Knights weren’t the only team to surrender a three-goal lead Friday when they fell 5-4 in overtime at New Jersey.
Washington also trailed by three before Ovechkin helped spur the rally against Columbus, and Arizona turned a 3-0 deficit into a 4-3 overtime win.
It was the second time in NHL history that three teams rallied from three goals down for wins. The only other time was Nov. 25, 1987, when four teams accomplished the feat.
It has been a trend this season, as 45.3 percent of 494 games have been won by a team that trailed at some point. No season in NHL history has seen as many comeback wins through the first 500 games.
There have been 70 multigoal comebacks, including 23 in the third period. Both are records through this point in the season.
Buffalo Sabres forward Patrik Berglund has missed the past two games with what the team previously called an illness.
His prognosis has changed.
The Sabres have now suspended the 30-year-old indefinitely for failing to report to the team before Saturday’s game against Washington.
Berglund was expected to be a key contributor after coming from St. Louis in an offseason trade that sent Ryan O’Reilly to the Blues, but he has four points in 23 games.