TAMPA — Oh, baby, wait till Don Cherry sees this.
The CBC TV analyst and former NHL coach already has laid into Capitals star Alex Ovechkin for perceived excessive celebrations.
Ovechkin stoked that fire Thursday, and riled Lightning players as well, with his antics after scoring his league-best 50th goal in Washington's 5-2 victory at the St. Pete Times Forum.
"He's going to be (mad), for sure," Ovechkin said of Cherry. "I love it. I can't wait till he says something about me. Old coaches, old system, you know?"
After Ovechkin turned Tampa Bay's Matt Pettinger inside out and ripped a shot from the top of the right faceoff circle past goalie Mike McKenna, he dropped his stick and waved his hands over it to say it was too hot to handle.
Ovechkin, 23, who joined Teemu Selanne as the only active players with three 50-goal seasons, said he came up with the idea with teammates Jose Theodore, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green. Some in the crowd booed when it was executed. Some on the Lightning seethed.
"He's the game's most dominant scorer, but to do that, especially on our ice, I took it as an insult," wing Ryan Malone said. "It's embarrassing. This isn't football."
"He came down a notch in my book," coach Rick Tocchet said. "I grew up in the old days of the (Philadelphia) Spectrum. That first period after that happened might have been a three-hour first period. … It's hard for me to see that in our building."
In other words, Tocchet was ticked someone didn't punch out Ovechkin.
"I was in the (penalty) box at the time," Malone said. "But you remember it. You make him pay the right way."
Ovechkin, who also had two assists, was just one of the stars for the Capitals, who scored three in the third to break a 2-2 tie. Green, the league's top-scoring defenseman, tallied twice; his 27th, 1:48 into the third, was the winner as Southeast-leading Washington won its ninth straight over Tampa Bay.
But Ovechkin was the topic of conversation, especially considering Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby has joined Cherry's criticism.
"He's a fun player to watch," wing Marty St. Louis said. "But … there's no reason to embarrass us and embarrass Mac."
Said McKenna: "I'm a traditionalist when it comes to hockey. I appreciate guys who play the game hard and are humble. Alex is always exciting to watch, and he's great for the game, but it's not something I would have done.
"When I saved his breakaway, I could have done a spin move or something, but I didn't."
First Period—1, Washington, Ovechkin 50 (Backstrom), 7:43. 2, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 16 (Lecavalier, Lashoff), 17:39 (pp). 3, Washington, Green 26 (Morrisonn, Kozlov), 19:50. Penalties—Semin, Was (hooking), 6:34; Malone, TB (interference), 7:06; Semin, Was (hooking), 17:25; Schultz, Was (tripping), 18:07; Malone, TB (interference), 18:55.
Second Period—4, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 27 (Malone, Lashoff), 15:54. Penalties—Jurcina, Was (elbowing), 10:11; Jurcina, Was (high-sticking), 19:12; Pettinger, TB (high-sticking), 19:12.
Third Period—5, Washington, Green 27 (Kozlov, Ovechkin), 1:48. 6, Washington, Nylander 8 (Kozlov, Ovechkin), 7:38 (pp). 7, Washington, Bradley 5 (Morrisonn, Steckel), 12:26. Penalties—Stamkos, TB (tripping), 6:34; Melichar, TB (hooking), 9:46. Shots on Goal—Washington 9-10-11—30. Tampa Bay 9-13-6—28. Power-play opportunities—Washington 1 of 5; Tampa Bay 1 of 4. Goalies—Washington, Varlamov 3-0-0 (28 shots-26 saves). Tampa Bay, McKenna 3-4-1 (30-25). A—16,541 (19,758).