Alex Ovechkin will have his first realistic shot at joining the 700 Club against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday at Capital One Arena.
The Russian machine now sits at 698 goals after scoring his fourth hat trick of the season against the Los Angeles Kings. Ovechkin’s third goal of that game came on an empty net.
After the morning skate Saturday, Ovechkin spoke to reporters about his future milestone goal and revealed he did not care if it was pretty.
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) February 8, 2020
“For me, it doesn’t matter (how I score),” Ovechkin said matter-of-factly. “Empty netter. From my head. From my leg. It doesn’t matter. It’s still a goal.”
NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti remarked, “It’d be cool if it’s from your head.”
“Yeah,” Ovechkin said as he began to flash a sly smile.
The Washington Capitals have scored a league-leading 15 empty-net goals this season and surprisingly six of them have been tallied by Ovechkin who has earned the trust of coaches to play in the game’s final minute.
“Right now he’s earned that opportunity to be out there because he’s making the right decisions defensively,” Capitals head coach Todd Reirden said. “You know, it is not something that you just put him out there because he will score goals. He went after this opportunity, and he’s deserved the chances he’s getting.”
Ovechkin has 39 career empty-net goals, which is third all-time and only 17 behind Wayne Gretzky for the most ever.
Alex Ovechkin's 6 empty-net goals this season are most in a season of his career.
He had 5 twice – in 2008-09 & 2009-10 – but also 0 three times – 2005-06, 2011-12 & 2016-17.
Of his 698 career goals, 39 have been empty-netters.
Wayne Gretzky is all-time leader with 56 ENG.
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) February 6, 2020
So prepare yourself. Goal number 700 may not be a breath-taking rush goal or a one-timer from the Ovi Spot. It may be clunker off Ovi’s knee or a slow-moving empty-netter from neutral.
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