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Alex Ovechkin is the NHL's reigning scoring champ and MVP. ((Rick Stewart/Getty Images))

He was somehow passed over for a starting spot, but Alex Ovechkin will still be a big part of the 2009 NHL all-star game after being selected as a reserve for the Eastern Conference.

Ovechkin is the league's reigning scoring champion and MVP, and is tied for the lead in goals with 27. The Washington Capitals forward was passed over in fan voting in favour of Pittsburgh Penguins young guns Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and the Montreal Canadiens' Alex Kovalev before the NHL named Ovechkin to the team Thursday.

The all-star game is Jan. 25 in Montreal, where Kovalev will be joined in the Eastern starting lineup by teammates Andrei Markov and Mike Komisarek on defence and Carey Price in goal.

"I know it's going to be a sick atmosphere," Ovechkin, a three-time All-Star, said after practice on Thursday.

Also selected as reserves on Thursday were Dany Heatley of the Ottawa Senators at forward, and Tomas Kaberle of the Toronto Maple Leafs on the blue-line.

Buffalo's Thomas Vanek and Philadelphia's Jeff Carter — both neck and neck with Ovechkin with 27 goals — received nods at forward, along with Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier, Carolina's Eric Staal, Boston's Marc Savard, New Jersey's Zach Parise, and Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk.

Mark Streit of the New York Islanders, who played the previous three seasons for Montreal, was chosen to round out the defence corps along with Boston's Zdeno Chara and Florida's Jay Bouwmeester.

The Bruins' Tim Thomas and the New York Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist will back up Price in goal.

The Eastern Conference boasts each of the five top goal scorers in the NHL, but only one was not selected to the all-star team — Boston's Phil Kessel, who's fourth with 24 goals.

Teammate Dennis Wideman was also passed over despite being tied with Savard for the league lead in plus-minus at plus-25. Wideman also has 26 points in 39 games for the Bruins, who sport the best record in the East.

The Western Conference reserves were announced Wednesday, with Vancouver's Roberto Luongo, Calgary's Jarome Iginla and Edmonton's Sheldon Souray among the players selected.