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.

The Sharks' lone finalist in the awards balloting, Antti Niemi, finished third in the voting for the Vezina Trophy given to the league's top goaltender. Niemi finished behind the Columbus Blue Jackets' Sergei Bobrovsky and the New York Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist.

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 made 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.


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Crosby did, however, win the Ted Lindsay Award from his fellow NHL Players' Association members as the league's best player.

In other awards, Montreal's P.K. Subban won his first Norris Trophy, given to the NHL's top defenseman, and Florida's Jonathan Huberdeau won the Calder Trophy, given to the NHL's top rookie.

Rangers coach: Alain Vigneault has agreed in principle to become the next coach of the New York Rangers, several media outlets reported, citing anonymous sources.

Vigneault coached Vancouver for seven seasons before being fired last month after the Canucks were swept in the playoffs by the Sharks.

He would replace John Tortorella, who coached the Rangers for five seasons before being fired May 29 and is a candidate for the Vancouver opening.

Prospect dies: The Edmonton Oilers have confirmed that prospect Kristians Pelss has died. He was 20. The Oilers said Pelss went missing Tuesday and was feared drowned in a river near his home in Riga, Latvia.

Pelss played last season with Edmonton's top minor league team, the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League. He was drafted by the Oilers in the seventh round in 2010.

Staff writer Curtis Pashelka contributed to this report.