Photo: Robert Mayer

In his first game back since the crushing disappointment of Sochi, Alex Ovechkin did what Alex Ovechkin does, scoring the game-winning goal in a crazy, 5-4 bonanza against the Florida Panthers.

He also got two assists. Three-point night for the Great Eight. Deal with it.

Ovi played the role of play-maker first, hitting new linemate Brooks Laich with a beautiful pass in the first period. It was just Ovechkin’s 7th even-strength assist of the season.

“[I] saw Thomas wait too far,” Ovechkin said to the media after the game. “Brooksy’s [defenseman] goes to the middle and he was wide open. So I just give it to him and nice shot.” That pretty much sums it up.

Next, Ovechkin nearly scored a goal of his own during a second-period power play. After taking a cross-ice pass from Nicklas Backstrom, Ovechkin one-timed a shot from The Ovi Spot. Tim Thomas came up with the initial save, but the puck squirted through and sat in the crease. Troy Brouwer potted the rebound.

Finally, in the third, Ovechkin actually scored. As Laich attacked the Panthers net, he returned the favor, hitting Ovechkin with his own beautiful cross-ice pass. Detecting a theme yet?

Ovechkin hit the one-timer and kissed his glove for the first time in weeks. This is how I scored all my goals in NHL 98.

That’s Ovi’s 41st goal of the season and the 412th of his career.

Ovechkin has a 9-goal lead over Phil Kessel for the league-lead.

In conclusion, this was a pretty good night for Ovechkin, considering that his normal linemate, Marcus Johansson, did not suit up due to jet lag. I kinda like the Laich-Backstrom-Ovechkin line. Who woulda thought?

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  • Chris Cerullo

    I literally shudder at even picturing this team without him.

  • Myan

    This is not a rhetorical question: would we be the Buffalo Sabres without Ovi?

  • Mahesh Prasad

    2 points away from 800-hope you guys have started drafting the post!

  • yv

    And Pavelski with 32 goals also who scoring a lot lately.

  • Graham Dumas

    How great was that assist to Laich. Money.

  • Adam Fink

    I think Laich did a good job making a little bit of space for Ovi, which I think MoJo doesn’t do quite as well. Plus Laich has a good shot, and MoJo RARELY shoots, which adds another scoring dimension to the line.
    Of course I dont have stats to back this up, just thoughts from watching.
    GO CAPS!

  • bskillet

    Awesome Ovie BUT, we have to do something about this D. We seem to be letting in 3,4,or 5 goals a game.

  • The thing about Laich is that he’s not good at carrying the puck into the offensive zone, which means he needs to be a checking line forward or a net-crasher/scorer. With Ovi, he’s gotta be the latter. Problem is we don’t want Ovi lugging the puck in neutral either. That limits options.

  • Eric Schulz

    I feel like we’d be slightly better… Backstrom is probably better than anybody Buffalo has, right? And when Mike Green has it going, ditto. So, that’s about it, I’d say: the Sabres plus Backstrom, plus (sometimes) Mike Green.

  • Eric Schulz

    I like Laich; he was *never* worth the money we gave him, but obviously the injuries hurts even more… if he can be a nice complementary piece on the 1st line, that helps ease the pain of that contract quite a bit, which is nice. Optimally, I like a power-forward type on that line; crash the net, hit some people, just do the dirty stuff. You make a good point though, that he needs to be able to carry the puck, which Laich isn’t so much. I’d love to see Wilson get some time there too. Try them both at times, and if Green is out there, that gives us another puck mover, at least, even if it’s from the blueline.