Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin punched his ticket to another milestone, scoring his 700th career NHL goal. The marker came in the third period of Saturday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.
The Capitals lost the game by a final score of 3-2.
Ovechkin’s goal was his 42nd of the season, but he hadn’t scored in five straight games prior to releasing the one-timer that made him the eighth player to reach 700.
The Russian winger keeps cruising up the scoring list and we should be looking at a lot more history before it’s all over. Ovechkin needs eight more to catch Mike Gartner in the next spot and that could still happen during this season. Phil Esposito sits at 717, the next hurdle.
Ovechkin’s goal is obviously pulling his Capitals into the station and repeating as Stanley Cup champions. The club is second in the Metropolitan Division as of press time and will battle the Pittsburgh Penguins down to the wire.
“It’s a special moment,” Ovechkin said. “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.”
In that classic hockey player sense, you have to know Ovechkin would’ve been a lot happier to have the win on Saturday. But getting his 700th has to reverberate somewhere inside, just as much as it reverberates in a league looking for a little something extra.
The 34-year-old should have plenty of time left in his career to start knocking down other records, with Wayne Gretzky’s 894 goals still the impossible mark. But plenty of people, including some of the best goal-scorers in the game’s history, think he could do it – if things go right.
“It wasn’t magic out there,” Brett Hull said to Mike Keenan on a recent Hockey News podcast. “They knew exactly where I was going, they knew exactly how I played and what I was going to do, but they couldn’t stop it. And that’s Ovechkin. He’s bigger, stronger and faster than I ever dreamed of.”
That determination, that ability to get in position like Hull and reel off the same one-timer that landed 700 on Saturday, should be the ticket to the top for Ovechkin.
“If he stays healthy and he wants to, I think he can,” Mike Bossy said of the possibility of reaching Gretzky’s mark. “His health is of the utmost importance. If Ovi wants to keep on playing, then I literally think he has a chance.”
There are always ifs and buts in sports, but it’s awfully exhilarating to bear witness to a history-making goal-scorer like Ovechkin, to drop the cynicism that so often plagues modern life and just enjoy the pure skill and vitality that drives this incredible talent.
Photo credit: NHL.com