Alex Ovechkin passed Gordie Howe for second place on the NHL career goals list on Friday night, scoring his 802nd empty-net goal with one minute left in the third period of the Washington Capitals game against the Winnipeg Jets .
After leveling Howe earlier in the game and seconds after hitting the post with his first attempt into an empty net, Ovechkin fired and connected from inside the blue line for the number 802. His teammates jumped off the bench in celebration, and fans stood up and chanted “Ovi! Ovi!”
A video tribute from Howe’s son Mark followed. Gordie Howe died in 2016 at the age of 88.
“We want to congratulate you on such a fantastic achievement,” said Mark Howe. “You were a pleasure to watch.”
Ovechkin is now 92 goals away from equaling Wayne Gretzky’s record of 894 which has long seemed unattainable.
“What he’s done year after year, his consistency and his ability to produce like he always has, it’s pretty remarkable,” said Toronto star Auston Matthews, the NHL’s most valuable player. scored 60 goals last season. “Every year he always plays every game like it’s his last. He’s just a horse there. He likes to score goals, and I think that’s been pretty evident throughout his career. You can just say it.
And Ovechkin has no plans to stop anytime soon. He signed for three more years after that season in hopes of surpassing 894 goals.
“He’s scoring more goals than anybody else, and that’s probably why he’s where he is right now,” Washington defenseman John Carlson said. “This story, people (passes), you’re like, damn motherfuckers, you play with a guy for 13 years who beats these guys in the history books. It’s a pretty cool thing.
Ovechkin’s 801st goal was his 52nd – the most of any opponent – in 71 games against the Jets/Atlanta Thrashers franchise. He also scored his 600th goal at home against Winnipeg.
Jets associate coach Scott Arniel, who spent the previous four seasons as an assistant for the Capitals, said he learned quickly that Ovechkin “doesn’t quit.”
“He’s such a motivated guy when he comes out to play,” Arniel said. “(He’s not) just a slapshot, one-time player who hangs out on the power play side. I saw all the goals he scored in net. Even the hat trick he got in Chicago, all three were there. He did a lot too. »
Ovechkin scored in his first game against David Rittich, who became the 166th NHL goaltender he’s beaten for a goal in his 18-year career. Only Jaromir Jagr at 178 and Patrick Marleau at 177 scored against more goaltenders.
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