Alex Ovechkin moves past Gordy Howe for 2nd all-time with 802nd goal


Alex Ovechkin took the next step in his pursuit of hockey history Friday night, passing Gordy Howe for No. 2 on the NHL’s all-time list with his 801st and 802nd career goals.

An empty-netter’s landmark goal inside the blue line with 1:00 left in the Washington Capitals’ 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets at Capital One Arena. The home crowd erupted into frenzy as the long-time captain was seen celebrating with his teammates on the ice. The Russian star’s first goal of the night came on a rush from the circle at the end of the first period.

“It’s very emotional,” Ovechkin said. “My parents watched from home. My wife is here, children are here, friends. It’s special to do it with a crowd at home. They are giving me full support which is huge. This is a historic moment. It’s nice to be in this category of players. It’s really cool.

The only name above Ovechkin is now “The Great One” – Wayne Gretzky’s 894 goals, once believed to be unreachable, top the mountain. As the 37-year-old Ovechkin’s scoring pace has aged him, No. 8 has become a legendary number. It may be a matter of when it passes 99.

“It’s crazy to see, it’s a huge number, and it’s a huge accomplishment for his game, for his person and for his family,” longtime Capitals teammate Dmitry Orlov said. “The way he’s going right now, of course, is fantastic, and you just hope he’s going to be healthy — another day, another milestone.”

Ovechkin’s no-look, empty-net goal came in comedic fashion. After the Jets pulled their goaltender, David Rittich, with less than three minutes left in regulation, the home crowd chanted Ovech’s name. The crowd was ready for Capitals coach Peter Laviolette to put Ovechtin on the ice for the point blank attempt — and the chants grew louder as the clock ticked down.

Ovechkin stepped onto the ice with 1:42 left in the game and attempted a long shot into an empty net that hit the post and went out. Moments later, with the Capitals in the offensive zone and an open net in front of him, Ovechkin passed it to Evgeny Kuznetsov, who quickly decided he didn’t want to shoot and handed it back to Ovechkin.

Laviolette said he and Ovechkin had a conversation before the game and decided to give Ovechkin normal minutes in case of any empty-net opportunities.

“It’s the kind of situation where if you have an opportunity to take it, you take it,” Ovechkin said. “I give it to Guzzi and he’s like, ‘I don’t want to take it.’ But after that it was special.”

Kuznetsov said: “If I score there I will feel very bad and half the world will be angry with me. You know, I have a lot of haters … reputation, whatever.

Howe Died in 2016 At the age of 88. Ovechkin met him at the 2009 All-Star Game in Montreal. He said a signed photo of Ovechkin and Howe together in the dressing room is Ovechkin’s “best thing” in his collection.

“Obviously, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky’s stick, Mario Lemieux’s stick — [the photo is] Probably number one,” he said.

No. Ovechkin’s wife, Nastia, and two sons, Sergey, 4, and Ilya, 2, in 801 and 802. All have attended Washington’s last three home games, and Ovechkin has had opportunities to catch Ho, but he hasn’t been able to. t Light up the lamp.

On Friday, with all eyes on him, Ovechkin made sure he put on a show. Both Sergey and Ilya went to the Capitals locker room to see their father’s historic number. 801 and no. 802 posed for photos while holding the bucks aloft.

“You never think it’s going to happen when you come into the league, you’re going to break any Gordy Howe record or Wayne Gretzky record or any record,” Ovechkin said. “Well, maybe you’re going to play in the NHL, you’re going to be good, you’re going to try to do your best — but the whole situation is happening now, it’s a miracle. You know, it’s pretty special.

Ovechkin’s first goal tied Howe’s record 18:22 into Friday’s game and gave Washington a 1-0 lead. His wrist shot from the circle went past Rittich, the 166th goaltender Ovechkin has scored in his remarkable career.

A second chase followed.

“When you see what Alex goes through on a daily basis, I think anything is possible,” Laviolette said. “The way he plays. The way he hits. The way he shoots the puck. His love for the game. His passion and purpose for the game. Anything is possible.”

Ovechkin has scored nine goals in his last nine games. On the season, he has scored 22 goals in 36 games – a 50-goal pace. The Capitals have struggled to start the year, but the captain has helped keep his injury-ravaged team afloat.

“He’s back on pace for another great year,” Laviolette said. “He’s in great shape. He’s got tremendous skill and talent when he does what he does. He loves the game. He has a passion and a purpose when he takes the ice. All of those things come together and he’s been able to play a lot of games, and I think it all comes down to the ability to play consistently. I think.

Teammates have long praised Ovech’s abilities, but as he ticked off one legend after another as he racked up the goals tally, the admiration reached a new level.

“Seven or eight years ago, nobody was talking about it, even though he was clearly on the same path as he is now,” defenseman John Carlson said this month. “It went from ‘maybe, kind of’ to ‘holy crap, it’s coming soon.’ … You get to play with a guy for 13 years who beat these guys in the history books, and that’s pretty cool.”

With No. 802 behind him, Ovechkin can take a moment to catch his breath. But expectations don’t end at number 2.

“Everyone is waiting for the Gretzky record, and it’s not going to be easy,” Orlov said. “Everyone knows, he knows. It’s a lot of work and sometimes luck. There’s a long way to go,” he said.

Added forward Anthony Manda: “I think he’s going to be top, he can rest easy. Until then, he’s in the hunt – that’s what we like about him.

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