With a searing slap shot that was equal components power and precision, Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin on Saturday grew to become the eighth participant in N.H.L. historical past with 700 profession objectives, reaching the magic quantity in a 3-2 loss to the Devils at Prudential Center.
Ovechkin went into the sport with 699 profession objectives and his 700th, with about 5 minutes left within the third interval, tied the sport at 2-2 forward of Damon Severson’s game-winner with 1:59 left.
Ovechkin, 34, now sits 194 objectives behind Wayne Gretzky’s profession document of 894, which appears attainable given his constant scoring over his 15-season profession. He is one in every of solely eight N.H.L. gamers to have scored 40 objectives in 10 seasons, and he has already scored extra objectives (225) after his 30th birthday than Gretzky (188), who retired at age 38. The objective on Saturday gave Ovechkin 42 for this season, with 21 video games remaining.
Ovechkin netted the 700th objective on a slap shot from the appropriate circle that he positioned over the shoulder of Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood. The referees stopped the sport and allowed the Capitals to swarm Ovechkin on the ice. Players from each groups then cleared the ice, permitting Ovechkin to salute the cheering highway crowd as each teammates and opponents slapped their sticks in opposition to the boards in recognition of the objective.
“It’s a special moment,” Ovechkin informed reporters. “When you get closer you start thinking when it’s going to happen. Finally, it’s over so we don’t have to talk about it anymore. We’re going to move on.”
Ovechkin scored 100 objectives over the earlier two seasons, and is on tempo for 57 this season. At the speed he has scored over the course of his profession, he would surpass Gretzky’s complete in 319 video games, and on the charge he has scored for the reason that 2017-18 season he would set the document in 306 contests.
“I remember talking about Gretzky, his records and how many goals he scored, and everybody said that was unbeatable,” mentioned former defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who regularly matched up with Ovechkin in each professional and worldwide play. “Now, if Ovi stays healthy and he can play four or five more years, it’s reachable.”
There are actually seven gamers forward of Ovechkin in profession scoring — Mike Gartner (708), Phil Esposito (717), Marcel Dionne (731), Brett Hull (741), Jaromir Jagr (766), Gordie Howe (801) and Gretzky (894).
On his solution to No. 700, Ovechkin lately handed a number of of the sport’s scoring greats, together with Mark Messier (in entrance of an Ottawa crowd chanting “Ovi!”) and Steve Yzerman, the previous Detroit Red Wings middle who’s now the membership’s common supervisor.
“You’ve had a tremendous career to date. It looks like you’re going strong and you might play forever,” Yzerman mentioned in a video addressed to Ovechkin. “If you ever do break Wayne Gretzky’s all-time record for the most goals in the league,” Yzerman added, “after watching your Stanley Cup celebrations, I want to be invited to your party.”
Those celebrations, after the Capitals beat the Vegas Golden Knights in 5 video games, included revelry at a nightclub and taking part in in a public fountain.
“Even after that many goals, every goal he scores is like his first goal in the N.H.L.; he’s jumping around and he’s very excited,” mentioned Jari Kurri, who retired because the N.H.L.’s main European-born goal-scorer, since handed by Teemu Selanne, Ovechkin and Jagr.
Ovechkin is greatest identified for possessing maybe essentially the most harmful one-timer in hockey historical past and for the childlike pleasure with which he celebrates. The shot has factored into his extraordinary success on the ability play, the place he has regularly double shifted and performed the complete two minutes. His 259 power-play objectives rank third, and it appears a mere formality that he’ll break Dave Andreychuk’s document of 274.
Ovechkin was reared by athletic dad and mom in a hardscrabble neighborhood on the perimeter of Moscow. His mom, Tatiana, was one of many nice level guards in Europe, successful two Olympic gold medals in basketball with the Soviet Union. His father, Mikhail, was an expert soccer participant, and his oldest brother, Sergei, was an achieved wrestler. Sergei died after a automobile accident when Alex was 10, and Ovechkin regularly celebrates objectives by kissing his fingers and pointing skyward in reminiscence of his large brother.
Ovechkin was chosen No. 1 within the N.H.L. draft of 2004, simply earlier than the league misplaced a full season to a labor dispute. When he lastly made his league debut in 2005-06, he scored 52 objectives and picked up 106 factors, which each rank him third for an N.H.L. rookie.
In his third season, Ovechkin led the N.H.L. in objectives (65) and factors (112), and gained the primary of his three Hart Trophies because the league’s most useful participant. He grew to become the primary left wing to complete because the scoring champion since Bobby Hull in 1965-66.
Those 65 objectives stay his excessive for a season, and so they made him the primary participant to attain 60 objectives since 1995-96. Ovechkin has led the N.H.L. in objectives seven extra occasions, surpassing Bobby Hull’s document for goal-scoring titles.
Ovechkin has been extraordinarily sturdy, lacking simply 31 video games over 15 seasons, and the Capitals have dominated their division, successful it 9 occasions in Ovechkin’s profession.
But postseason success lengthy eluded them, typically by the hands of Ovechkin’s fellow 2005-06 arrival, Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, the participant with whom Ovechkin is continuously in contrast. Ovechkin has by no means gained a medal on the Olympics, whereas Crosby has twice gained gold with the Canadian crew, and Crosby gained three Stanley Cups earlier than Ovechkin captured his first.
In 2017-18, after the Capitals misplaced appreciable expertise in free company and had gone from title favorites to quiet contenders, they gained the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. Ovechkin, who had elevated his fiery management and defensive play along with main the league in playoff objectives, was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs’ M.V.P.
“I think it totally changed his legacy, there’s no doubt in my mind,” mentioned Daniel Briere, who confronted Ovechkin’s Capitals within the playoffs with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2008. “Everybody noticed him as an awesome hockey participant, however all people puzzled how dedicated to successful he was or if he was extra about himself.
“It was not just that he led them or that they won the Cup, it was the way he did it,” Briere added.
With 80 factors, Ovechkin and the Capitals are tied with Pittsburgh atop the Metropolitan Division, and have designs on one other Stanley Cup. The bigger image, nonetheless, is whether or not Ovechkin — often called Alexander the Great and The Great Eight — can in the end engrave his title above that of Gretzky, The Great One.
“It’s still a long way away,” mentioned Kurri, who skated alongside Gretzky in Edmonton and Los Angeles. “We don’t know what’s going through his head, what goals he has, how long he can stay healthy or if he’s motivated.”
After going via the variables and components in Ovechkin’s potential quest for the document, Kurri paused and added, “If there’s a player who can do it, he’s the guy.”