Coming into Monday’s game against the Sabres, Nicklas Backstrom was asked if Alex Ovechkin played harder coming into potential milestone games.
“Yeah,” Backstrom laughed. “If anyone knows where they are on the stats there – how many goals he’s behind players – it’s him. He keeps hearing about it too. He’s that type of player. When he wants to chase something, he does it right away. That’s how he is as a player and a goalscorer. So that’ll be tonight.”
Nicke was correct. Late in the third period, Ovechkin scored his 717th career goal tying Phil Esposito for sixth all-time in goals. The goal put a pretty bow on the Capitals’ 6-0 victory over Buffalo.
Ovi scored after Conor Sheary found the Russian machine for a one-timer in the slot. Ovechkin’s shot appeared to be partially blocked, but lobbed end-over-end past Carter Hutton.
“Obviously, it’s nice to be in this company,” Ovechkin said shrugging. “I just do what I have to do. I try to use my chances and move on.”
“Obviously, it’s nice to be in this company. I just do what I have to do. I try to use my chances and move on.”
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 16, 2021
“I’ve known Phil (Esposito) for a long time and was an unbelievable player, unbelievable goal scorer,” Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette said. “I grew up in Massachusetts watching Phil so to be able to grow up and watch him and the player he was and he also gave me my chance in hockey and in the organization. Now, to get a chance to work with Ovi and have these two guys sitting here at the same number is pretty, pretty incredible, so I am really happy for O. He works hard and really, he takes pride in his game and takes pride in doing the best he can to put that puck on net. It was great to watch him score that goal there.”
Ovechkin is heating up after a slow start to the season that included a trip to COVID protocol. The elite sniper has four goals in his last five games. His 11 goals puts him 10 behind NHL goal-scoring leader Auston Matthews approximately half-way through the 2020-21 season.
“I think have pretty good chances almost every game, but sometimes it goes in, sometimes it’s not,” Ovechkin said. “So, I just try to do my job. The most important goals are still coming.”
Capping the scoring in a 6-0 @Capitals win over the Sabres earlier tonight via his 4th goal in the last 5 games, Alex Ovechkin has tied for 6th on this hallowed all-time list. He can reach 5th before season's end if he's able to score 14 more in WSH's 2nd half (28 gms) of 2020-21 pic.twitter.com/J4vuDKU30W
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) March 16, 2021
The previous game, Ovechkin moved into second all-time in shots passing Jaromir Jagr.
Now, with his family back home, Ovechkin will turn his attention towards fifth-place Marcel Dionne (731 goals).
#ALLCAPS Alex Ovechkin is the 2nd fastest player in history to reach the 717-goal mark
Can he still catch Wayne Gretzky for the career goal-scoring crown? pic.twitter.com/8eBWyOrNmW
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) March 16, 2021
Screenshot courtesy of NBC Sports Washington
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