CHICAGO — Alex Ovechkin capped his great season with the NHL's biggest award.
The Washington Capitals right wing won his third Hart Trophy, given to the league's MVP, on Saturday night, beating out Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and John Tavares of the New York Islanders. Ovechkin led the NHL with 32 goals during the regular season, the first time he's led the league in scoring since 2009, when he won his second straight Hart Trophy.
"It was kind of hard, but as everybody knows, I like challenges," Ovechkin, who was moved to the right wing this season, said in taped remarks. "It was a big challenge for me and the coaching staff, but we make it."
Ovechkin is the eighth player to win three or more Harts, joining Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Clarke, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe, Eddie Shore and Howie Morenz.
The vote was expected to be close after Ovechkin and Crosby tied for fourth in the NHL with 56 points, despite the Penguins center missing 12 games with a broken jaw. And it was, with Ovechkin edging Crosby by just 32 points (1,090-1,058) in voting by members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. It was the closest Hart vote since Montreal's Jose Theodore and Calgary's Jarome Iginla finished in a virtual tie in 2002.
Crosby did, however, win the Ted Lindsay Award from his fellow NHL Players' Association members as the league's best player.
"I don't think you play throughout the season with awards in mind, to be honest," Crosby said. "To be recognized by the players for this one means a lot. The Hart, I was in the mix and to be that close, you'd love to win. ... (But) I'm not going to be too upset that I didn't win."
In other awards announced before Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals, Montreal's P.K. Subban won his first Norris Trophy, given to the NHL's top defenseman. Subban topped the league's defensemen with 11 goals and 27 assists, and was largely responsible for Montreal's resurgence.
"I think that every year you grow as a player, both on and off the ice. I think as an organization, a group and a team we improved this year," Subban said. "When you improve, everybody benefits. I just think I benefitted from our improvement this year.
"Being a fan of the Montreal Canadiens since I was little kid and growing up a Habs fan, I appreciate being a leader for this organization."
Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets won the Vezina Trophy, given to the NHL's top goaltender.
Bobrovsky, who beat out Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers and Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks for his first Vezina, was the main reason Columbus was in the running for a playoff berth until the very end of the season. The Blue Jackets and Minnesota both finished with 55 points, but the Wild got the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference because of fewer non-shootout wins.
Bobrovsky finished 21-11-6, with a 2.00 GAA, .932 save percentage and four shutouts.
"This is not my final stage," the Russian said through a translator. "I can be better and I will get better.
Florida's Jonathan Huberdeau won the Calder Trophy, given to the NHL's top rookie.
"There were a lot of good rookies this year," Huberdeau said. "I wasn't expecting anything and I'd glad I won it."
The Panthers center played in all 48 games for Florida, ranking second both on the team and among NHL rookies with 31 points (14 goals, 17 assists). Among first-year players, he finished third in goals, fourth in assists and third in shots on goal (112).
"For sure it helped that I had more ice time than I was expecting to have with all the injuries we had," he said.
"You don't have to think when you play every other game," he added. "I wasn't thinking about the Calder. I was just playing my game at and the end I got the trophy."