WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin scored his 767th goal in the Washington Capitals’ 4-3 win over the New York Islanders on Tuesday night to overtake Jaromir Jagr in third place on the NHL career list.
Ovechkin’s goal with 4:58 left in the third period gave the Capitals the lead and made him the top European goalscorer in league history. The long-time Russia captain was surrounded by team-mates while receiving a standing ovation from the crowd in the US capital, which has cheered Ovechkin for almost two decades.
The chants of “Ovi! Ovi!” continued before Islanders captain Anders Lee equalized with a 6-for-5 goal to stay 1:59 down in third. But fans left happy after Anthony Mantha scored the shootout winner to extend the Capitals’ winning streak to two and level them 5-0-1 in their last six games.
All eyes were on Ovechkin and his attempt to sever ties with Jagr, whose rough tenure with the Capitals from 2001-04 left him unpopular with Washington fans. Ovechkin had no such problems here, even after his country invaded Ukraine on the orders of President Vladimir Putin, whom Ovechkin has long supported.
Focusing on his accomplishments on the ice, it became clear that only Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe have scored more NHL goals. Ovechkin needs 35 goals to overtake Howe and 128 to break Gretzky’s record – long considered unattainable in modern hockey.
Islanders forward Mat Barzal doesn’t follow Ovechkin’s exact numbers, but he doesn’t have to look far to see the bright red goal counter in the corner of Capital One Arena.
“This is crazy,” Barzal said of Ovechkin, who is behind only Gretzky and Howe. “I don’t know the exact number, but over 700 goals in this league. He is a top 5 and top 10 player of all time. Pretty cool every time you get a chance to compete against him and see him up close.”
Ovechkin scored in the shadow of the 2018 Capitals Stanley Cup banner while Barry Kross was on the away bench. Despite coaching Washington to their first title in franchise history, Ovechkin became playoff MVP.
“Every time we come and play the Caps, Ovi is ready for another milestone, which is fantastic,” saiddios, who coached Ovechkin for four seasons from 2014 to 2018. “The only thing I’ve learned about Ovi over my time is that if you doubt Ovi or say he can’t, he will interfere. He just steps in and is determined. And I think over time he’s learned to probably train a little bit differently. It’s pretty amazing.”
At 36, Ovechkin is three goals away from reaching 40 for the 12th time in his NHL career. That would tie Gretzky for the most 40-goal season in history.
“This guy is the all-time top scorer and I think he will be until someone else beats him, but (it’s unbelievable) how physical he is and how enduring he is,”diot said. “It’s not like he walks around calmly and just shoots the puck into the net. He runs over people. Contact doesn’t bother him. He’s putting himself in dangerous positions, and he’s 36, he’s getting older, you’d think he’d break somewhere along the line.
Ovechkin shows no signs of slowing down. Still playing top minutes at his age, he impresses 27-year-old linemate Tom Wilson with his seemingly endless energy.
“(Last game) I get on the bench and I’m tired, I’m gassed and he’s like, ‘Come on, come on, come on. Let’s go,’” Wilson recalled. “I’m like ‘Holy smokes.’ It pulls you into battle. It pushes you. It sure is contagious. You feel that. There is nothing better. It’s such a cool thing to be a part of.”
The Capitals have been part of numerous milestones throughout most of Ovechkin’s 17-year NHL career. Earlier this season he passed Brett Hull for fourth – and in previous years there were the 500, 600 and 700 goal marks.
After Ovechkin tied against Jagr in Calgary last week, Nicklas Backstrom began celebrating in Edmonton a night later when his longtime teammate had the puck at close range and half the net went empty. Not like Backstrom was worried about Ovechkin taking too long to pass Jagr.
“Any milestones that I remember him seeing, he didn’t wait long – just a game or two,” Backstrom said. “He usually does it right away. That’s him.”
In a pre-recorded congratulatory video message, Jagr joked that Ovechkin had better keep shooting because he hasn’t stopped yet. Jagr, at the age of 50, continues to play for the team he owns in the Czech Republic.
Ovechkin is under contract until the age of 40. At his current pace this season, he would need to average 29 goals over the next four years to overtake Gretzky before his current contract expires.
https://nypost.com/2022/03/15/alex-ovechkin-climbs-nhl-goal-list-as-capitals-top-islanders/ Alex Ovechkin climbs the NHL’s all-time top goal list as the Capitals’ top islander