Alex Ovechkin scored three times in the first two periods, leading his Washington Capitals past the struggling Ottawa Senators, 7-4, before another sellout crowd at the Verizon Center.

The "Great Eight" increased his league-leading goals total to 36, after scoring five goals in the two afternoon games over the weekend. For a player that notoriously dislikes the early games, even Ovechkin himself can not argue with the results.

After the statement win over Detroit Saturday, the Caps could have been in for a let down against Ottawa, disappointingly mired in the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

But coach Bruce Boudreau's charges came out from the first face-off, playing with determination and brilliance, to quell any thoughts the Senators had of pulling off the upset, despite allowing Sens' captain Daniel Alfredsson to open the scoring just over three minutes into the game.

Washington (32-15-4-68, first in Southeast, second in East) followed that goal with two of their own in the first, both in spectacular fashion on the power play.

Defenseman Mike Green (15) blasted a slap shot past goalie Brian Elliott just seconds after an Ottawa hooking penalty. Less than a minute later, with another Ottawa player in the box, Green found Ovechkin in the left wing dot, who made no mistake with the puck.

The two plays took a total of seven seconds. Credit goes to Niklas Backstrom and Sergei Fedorov for winning the offensive zone face-offs, who each drew their face-offs directly back to Green at the point.

The Caps scored four times in the second period, including a breakaway from Alexander Semin, who made a nifty move on replacement goaltender Alex Auld, faking him to the forehand and then lifting the backhand past him once Auld was on the ice. The play was set up by Green, who lobbed a long pass to a breaking Semin.

Boudreau called the play a "Hail Mary" in honor of Super Bowl Sunday.

"A highlight pass," Boudreau said. "That was a sick pass by Mike Green."

Eric Fehr added his fourth goal of the season for Washington.

Washington rests until Tuesday night, when they travel to New Jersey to face the Devils at 7:00 pm. The Caps hold a one point advantage over New Jersey for second place in the Eastern Conference. The Devils have won eight in a row and nine of their last 10 games.

Photos (c) C. Nichols 2009.

03:31 Daniel Alfredsson (13), Wrist Shot. Assist: Heatley, Spezza
09:43 Power Play - Mike Green (15), Slap Shot. Assist: Backstrom
10:32 Power Play - Alex Ovechkin (34), Snap Shot. Assist: Green, Fedorov

46.0 Eric Fehr (4), Slap Shot. Assist: Backstrom, Schultz
02:15 Alex Ovechkin (35), Wrist Shot. Assist: Fedorov, Kozlov
05:01 Daniel Alfredsson (14), Slap Shot. Assist: Volchenkov, Phillips
13:07 Alexander Semin (19), Backhand Shot. Assist: Green, Laich
15:31 Alex Ovechkin (36), Wrist Shot. Assist: Fedorov

07:56 Antoine Vermette (6), Wrist Shot. Assist: Kelly, Fisher
11:28 Power Play - Dany Heatley (22), Tip-In, Unassisted.
19:36 Nicklas Backstrom (13), Empty Net. Assist: Green

1. A. Ovechkin - WAS (Goals: 3, Assists: 0)
2. M. Green - WAS (Goals: 1, Assists: 3)
3. S. Fedorov - WAS (Goals: 0, Assists: 3)

Green's 15 goals lead all defensemen...The game was the 14th sell out of Verizon Center this season and seventh straight, one game short of the Caps all-time record...It was Ovechkin's seventh career hat trick...The Game was delayed twice in the second period to adjust the Plexiglas panels behind the Ottawa goal after checks by Doanld Brashear.