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A couple of days ago, we mentioned that the Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin had snapped out of what amounted to a scoring slump for him (one goal in eight games) with a hat trick in a rout over Boston. Well, last night Ovechkin kept the hot hand in a 3-1 Caps' win over Buffalo with two more goals -- which raises his NHL-leading total to 54 -- and a defensive play that set up what turned out to be the deciding score.

In the first period, Ovechkin scored on a breakaway that was absolutely a no-contest with Sabres goalie Ryan Miller. But the second-period play was almost as impressive. Ovechkin took a Sabre off the puck at the offensive blue line and started a sequence that resulted in a Nicklas Backstrom goal. Buffalo fans apparently felt Ovechkin should have been whistled on the play but with apologies to my friends at Sabres watering hole Fletcher's in Fells Point, it looked like just a good play. Ovechkin finished with a strong slap shot from the left circle in the third period.

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So Washington remains in the hunt for a playoff spot and Ovechkin is closer to becoming the first player in more than a decade to score 60 goals.

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