Alex Ovechkin now has the goal-scoring lead, and bigger things could be coming

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McDavidConnor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
McDavid has been on fire since returning from injury, and he continued his tear with a pair of goals and three assists in the Oilers' 5-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. He now has 12 points in six games since coming back from a broken collarbone.

LehnerRobin Lehner, Buffalo Sabres
Lehner allowed five goals (including four in the second period) on 28 shots in the Sabres' 5-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and has now allowed nine goals in his past four periods of play.

Is Alex Ovechkin headed for a scoring title and the Stanley Cup finals?

Scott Burnside@ESPN_Burnside: Well, well, well -- look who's back at the top of the goal-scoring list as we hit the final third of regular season: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin. Maybe you've heard of him. It's been a titanic season for the Great 8, who earlier this season passed Sergei Fedorov to become the top-scoring Russian player of all time and then became the first Russian to hit the magic 500-goal plateau. Now, after scoring three times in the second period in Thursday's 4-3 win over the hapless Minnesota Wild, Ovechkin has overtaken Patrick Kane for the league's goal-scoring lead with 34. Would anyone bet against Ovechkin winning his fourth straight (and sixth overall) Rocket Richard Trophy as the league's top goal scorer? Or do you think Kane, who has not shown any kind of stumble to his game and leads Jamie Benn by 15 points in the race for the Art Ross Trophy as the league's top point-getter, can hold off Ovechkin? Does Ovechkin factor into the Hart Trophy race if he does win another Rocket Richard? And thinking big picture, is it too much to imagine what kind of fireworks we might see if we end up with a Chicago-Washington Stanley Cup final? Bring it on, I say.

Craig Custance@CraigCustance: Ovechkin is truly amazing. In a time when everyone else is struggling to score, he's the exception. He has six goals in the five games since the All-Star break, so the time off seems to have done him well. He certainly will be in the Hart Trophy conversation, and I'd make him the Rocket Richard favorite. My guess is that he ends up leading the league in goals, and I'm still not ruling out Sidney Crosby catching Kane in points. Wouldn't that be something? All this new, young talent in the league, all these great new stars, and at the end of the day it might just end up being Sid and Alex on top, as it's been for years.

Joe McDonald@ESPNJoeyMac: This could be the season Ovechkin and and the Capitals finally make their presence felt during the Stanley Cup playoffs. His 14th career hat trick was impressive, and for all the career accolades he's collected, especially this season, it's hard to believe it was Ovechkin's first hat trick since Dec. 13, 2013. Washington's victory was its 40th of the season (in 53 games, making them the fastest to 40 wins in league history), and Ovechkin is a big reason for the team's success. What makes it even better, however, is that the captain has rebranded himself as a team player and not necessarily a one-man show. He's bought into coach Barry Trotz's system, and the result could be a deep playoff run in the spring of 2016. The way Ovechkin has played this season, I don't think anyone will be able to keep up down the stretch, including Kane.

Pierre LeBrun@Real_ESPNLeBrun: What impresses me the most about Ovechkin is how he was willing to change his game to a degree when Trotz took over last season. Let's not confuse him with two-way machine Marian Hossa, but Ovechkin has been better defensively, at least by his own standards, and I really respect that. I also go back to the second game of the season, when Trotz made Ovechkin a healthy scratch after Ovechkin was late for the morning skate. Huge moment in the Caps' season right there, sending the message that nobody is bigger than the team. And the best part was that Ovechkin took it like a man and never looked back. Great stuff.

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