A big fall for the Big Z

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- Alexander Ovechkin has done a few things this season you don't see often in the NHL.

The Washington Capitals' outstanding rookie has scored some unbelievable goals this year, but yesterday he did something really rare: He put Senators 6-foot-9 defenceman Zdeno Chara on his butt.

Ovechkin hammered Chara to the ice behind the Ottawa net in the third period, causing a turnover that led directly to the Caps' second goal and giving them a little breath of life in what turned out to be a 5-2 loss.

For one of the NHL's most skilled players -- maybe its most skilled -- Ovechkin doesn't shy away from the physical stuff.

Senators coach Bryan Murray wasn't happy with the hit on Chara.

"Is there a guy in the league who gets less respect (from the officials) than 'Z'?" he wondered after the game. "I thought that was run from behind, but I guess because he's a big guy, I guess they think he can tolerate more."

He gave Senators defenceman Chris Phillips a good hit in front of the Washington bench yesterday in the first period. He also crunched Senators defenceman Wade Redden behind the Ottawa net in the second. He gave Ottawa's Vaclav Varada a pretty good shoulder in front of the Caps net, too.

He led the Caps in hits with five Friday night against the New Jersey Devils.

Despite taking that big hit, Chara won the war yesterday as Ovechkin was held off the scoresheet.

Ovechkin has now been limited to just one goal in three games against the Senators this season, thanks in large part to the work of Chara and Phillips.

He had just one shot yesterday.

Hear and There:

One of the best stops by Senators goaltender Ray Emery yesterday came in the third period. It wasn't a hard shot, but the fact it came off the stick of teammate Chris Kelly from the edge of the crease probably made it unexpected ... In the second period, Washington's Jeff Halpern challenged Ottawa's Mike Fisher to a fight and Fisher was happy to accommodate him. It looked like a draw ... Ottawa's Dany Heatley is primarily a shooter, but he showed he's got some passing touch, too, when he sent Jason Spezza in alone in the second. Heatley corralled the puck off the boards and hit a breaking Spezza just outside the Caps' line.

The Buzz:

The Caps do a good job of making Ovechkin the centre of attention on the big screen during the game. He was in a feature during the second intermission going to a car show and indoor golf with teammate Matt Bradley of Stittsville. It was a funny piece with Bradley doing most of the talking. "We found out Ovie might be the best hockey player in the world, but he's the worst golfer," said Bradley ... Ovechkin has averaged 5.3 shots per game and is on pace for 429, which would blow away the rookie record of 387 set by Teemu Selanne with the Winnipeg Jets in 1992-93.

Revelations:

The Senators haven't lost to the Caps in Washington since March 11, 2001 ... Heatley just made a nice pass to Patrick Eaves for a good shot in the second. Eaves gave Heatley the Jaromir Jagr treatment (remember that ad? "When I do this, it means give me the puck!"), slapping his stick on the ice for a pass, and Heatley put it on a tee ... Ovechkin's goals haven't been at gravy time, either, with 25 of them either tying the score of giving the Caps the lead in a game.

Speculations:

I guess one of the advantages of having almost the entire second level empty at the Verizon Center yesterday is the choir that sang the national anthems got to sing from section 204, kinda like having their own choir loft.

Just Wondering:

What are the odds? When the puck went into the stands in the second period, it wound up in a guy's cup of beer. He was seated right at the end of the Ottawa bench ... That highlight could be coming to a SportsCentre near you.

Let Me Say This About That:

On a rare Saturday afternoon off on the NHL schedule, Sylvain "Sleepy Sly" St-Laurent of Le Droit (or Le Detroit as it is referred to here on his nameplate) and I went to the Smithsonian Museum of American History. We saw the original Star Spangled Banner, which was interesting and added some significance to the choir's version of the anthem yesterday ... We also found out how astronauts can, umm, relieve themselves if they have to do a No. 2 in their space suits, so it turned out to be a really, really informative day.

Napkin Notes:

Some franchises will put a banner up for anything. Hanging from the Verizon Center rafters? Four banners trumpeting the Washington Mystics of the WNBA being attendance champions ... That guy who had the puck land in his beer was just up on the big screen. He's got another full cup.

Parting Shot:

The Caps have the same contest a lot of teams do, but a ride on the "Olympic Ice Resurfacer" just doesn't have the same ring to it as "I Wanna Drive the Zamboni," does it?


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