Ovechkin set for Leafs

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

In the other 29 NHL cities, he is The Great Eight.

In Toronto, he is The Great Headache.

Yes, Alexander Ovechkin pretty much is a pain in the scoreboard to whichever team he might be playing on a particular night. At the same time, he seems to be especially lethal on the Maple Leafs, lighting it up against them almost every time he faces the blue and white.

Hockey's most electrifying superstar is pretty much averaging a goal-a-game versus Toronto in his young career, scoring 15 times in 16 outings. That includes an early goal in the Caps 6-4 win over the Leafs back on Oct. 3 at Verizon Center, a game in which Washington built up a dominating five-goal lead before a late run by the visitors whittled the advantage to two.

Given those numbers, Ovechkin is the last guy the free-falling Leafs, losers of four consecutive games, need to see skating into the Air Canada tonight.

If the prospect of having to chase Alexander The Great all over the rink in front of a national television audience isn't daunting enough for the Leafs, they'll also have to deal with a frustrated Ovechkin who did not score in a 3-2 Capitals loss to the Montreal Canadiens last night.

The Caps came within a Mike Green goal-post of tying the game with 22 seconds remaining, but the Habs held on for the victory.

Ovechkin returned to the Caps lineup earlier this week against the New York Rangers after missing six games with an upper body sprain. It didn't take him long to make an impact, either, scoring less than 10 minutes into his return.

"It's always nice to come back in the first period of the first game and score," Ovechkin said.

He's back in mid-season form as far as Caps coach Bruce Boudreau is concerned.

"He can shoot the puck, he had seven hits ... he didn't actually ease himself into the lineup," Boudreau said.

Ovechkin referred to his time on the sidelines as "kind of boring." That's tough for a player who is anything but.

At least the Caps learned that they can survive without Ovechkin in the lineup, going 4-2 in his absence. Of course, the Leafs would love to face a Caps team, as hot as it might be, without Ovechkin.

They won't be so lucky. He'll be here, looking to feast on Toronto yet again.

MIKE.ZEISBERGER@SUNMEDIA.CA


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