Repeat MVP Ovechkin heats up award shindig

Reprising his "hot stick" celebration, Alex Ovechkin turned the NHL’s Hart Memorial Trophy into the "Hot Trophy" on Thursday at the NHL Awards show inside the Pearl Theater at the Palms.

As he did with his stick after scoring the 50th of his 56 goals this season, the Washington Capitals star pantomimed warming his hands over the Hart after winning the NHL Most Valuable Player trophy for the second year in a row.

"Just to have fun," said Ovechkin, who continued his hot streak of award winning.

He reeled in four at last year’s show in Toronto and repeated as winner of three Thursday — the Hart; the Lester B. Pearson Award, the MVP as voted by the NHL Players Association; and the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy, which goes to the league’s leading goal scorer.

The only award the 23-year-old Russian didn’t win again was the Art Ross Trophy, for the league’s top point scorer. Russian Evgeni Malkin, who helped lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup, scored 113 points to edge Ovechkin by three.

Malkin and teammate Max Talbot carried the cup onstage to begin the show, which was dominated by Russians, who won six of the 16 awards.

Russian Pavel Datsyuk, the Detroit Red Wings center, won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (most gentlemanly player) for the fourth year in a row and his second straight Frank J. Selke Trophy (best defensive forward).

Former Russian stars Igor Larionov and Vladimir Konstantinov presented the Pearson Award to Ovechkin.

"I’m happy they gave me it," Ovechkin said before dedicating the award to his late grandfather. "This was a very hard year for my family. We lost my grandfather. This award, I give it to him and all my family."

Ovechkin, whose 528 shots on goal were the second-highest single-season total in NHL history — trailing the 550 by Boston’s Phil Esposito in 1970-71 — is the first repeat winner of the Hart since goaltender Dominik Hasek in 1998.

The Boston Bruins also fared well at the first NHL Awards show in Las Vegas, winning four. Tim Thomas won the Vezina Trophy for outstanding goaltender, a great achievement for a 35-year-old who bounced around Europe and hockey’s minor leagues for more than a decade.

He choked up throughout his acceptance speech, saying, "I never really allowed myself to believe I might win. … I’ve been more worried about getting my name on a roster than to get it on a trophy."

Thomas led the league in goals-against average (2.10) and save percentage (.933) while recording 36 wins.

"I don’t like to talk about it, but look how far I’ve come," he said offstage. "Four years ago, it wasn’t even worth dreaming about. I was having a hard time finding work in Finland."

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354.

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