April 29, 2009 / 6:18 PM / 10 years ago

Trio of Russians to battle for NHL MVP honours

New York Rangers' Daniel Girardi (L) checks Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin during the third period of Game 7 of their NHL Eastern Conference quarter-final hockey series in Washington April 28, 2009. REUTERS/Molly Riley

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Washington Capitals Alexander Ovechkin was named a Hart trophy finalist for the second straight year Wednesday and will battle two fellow Russians for the NHL’s most valuable player award.

Detroit Red Wings Pavel Datsyuk and Pittsburgh Penguins Evgeni Malkin were the other Hart finalists announced by the league.

Ovechkin, who has already claimed the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy for the second consecutive season for leading the league in goals with 56, is bidding to become the first repeat winner of the Hart trophy since Dominik Hasek in 1997 and 1998.

The Russian sniper has scored 50 or more goals in four of his five NHL seasons. He was second in the league in power play goals this season with 19 and third in game winners with 10.

Datsyuk finished fourth in the league scoring race this season while matching his career-high with 97 points and scoring a personal-best 32 goals.

Malkin, who has also claimed league honours by winning the Art Ross trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer with 113 points, played in all 82 games for the Penguins for the second straight year.

The winner will be announced on June 18 at the NHL Awards show in Las Vegas.

Writing by Steve Keating in Detroit; Editing by John Mehaffey

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