WASHINGTON -- Alex Ovechkin awoke from his mini slumber with his first hat trick since 2011 to lead the Washington Capitals to a 5-1 win over the New Jersey Devils Saturday afternoon at Verizon Center.
Braden Holtby also snuffed Steve Bernier on a penalty shot for Washington.
Eric Fehr scored the first shorthanded goal of his career, giving the Caps their first win since Feb. 14. It was also the first time this season the Capitals (6-10-1) beat a team in the top eight of the Eastern Conference standings.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored for the Devils, who beat the Capitals 2-1 on Thursday night but have lost four of their last six games (2-3-1).
Through the first 16 games of the season, Ovechkin ranked second in the NHL with 68 shots, but was 56th in goals with just five.
His three-goal game was his first since Jan. 22, 2011, against the Toronto Maple Leafs, a span of 128 regular season games and another 23 playoff games.
After a scoreless first period, Ovechkin got the Capitals on the board 5:20 into the second period with his sixth goal of the year and his second at even strength. Without a goal in his previous three games, Ovechkin took a cross-ice feed from Mike Ribeiro and snapped a hard shot over a diving Johan Hedberg for a 1-0 lead.
The Devils had a chance to tie with 7:29 remaining in the second period when Steve Bernier was awarded his first career penalty shot. The 27-year-old right wing broke away from Washington defenseman Tom Poti, who upended him with a desperate dive. Bernier tried to beat Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby between the pads but the 23-year-old netminder closed the door and made a left pad save.
The Capitals looked like they might make it into the third period with a one-goal lead but Ilya Kovalchuk foiled those plans with one flick of his wrists. Kovalchuk swung into the offensive zone, took a pass from Andrei Loktionov and beat Holtby high stick side for his seventh goal of the season and a tie score.
It didn't take long for the Caps to set the tone in the third period.
Ovechkin took a lead pass from Matt Hendricks, rumbled down the right wing, used Anton Volchenkov as a screen and unleashed a shot that looked a lot like Kovalchuk's, beating Hedberg to the far side.
It was the first two-goal game for Ovechkin since March 23, 2012, in a win over the Winnipeg Jets, a span of 37 games including playoffs.
The Caps extended their lead to 3-1 with their first shorthanded goal of the season, 3:56 into the third period, when Fehr went behind the Devils net, stripped Hedberg of the puck and stuffed it into the open net.
Ovechkin completed his hat trick with 4:47 remaining in the game when he snapped a pass from Ribeiro over Hedberg's right shoulder for a power-play goal.
The Caps finished off the scoring when Troy Brouwer tied Ovechkin with his eighth of the season with 2:51 to play.
Notes: Capitals defenseman Mike Green took warmups but sat out his third straight game with a groin injury. "He can't be almost ready to go, he's got to feel that he can go play and play 100 percent because I can't have him go two shifts and then get hurt," Capitals coach Adam Oates said before the game. ... Devils defenseman Mark Fayne returned to the lineup in place of Henrik Tallinder, who struggled in Thursday night's 3-2 win over the Capitals. Tallinder has played in 599 NHL games. Fayne, a healthy scratch for three consecutive games, was paired with Anton Volchenkov. ... Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli watched the game from the press box. ... The Devils are back in action Sunday in Newark when they take on the visiting Jets. ... The Capitals are off until Tuesday when they conclude their three-game homestand against the Carolina Hurricanes.