Alex Ovechkin stretched out his arms in celebration, teammates mobbed him along the boards and jubilant fans launched their hats onto the ice.
This was the performance they had waited to see.
Ovechkin scored his first hat trick this season and 16th of his 10-year NHL career to lead the Washington Capitals over the St. Louis Blues 4-3 on Wednesday night.
In the process, the three-time MVP and six-time goal-scoring champ showed the attitude that echoed his best seasons.
"He played with excitement again," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said of Ovechkin, whose 12 goals now tie him for second in the league. "I think sometimes we say he's not scoring...