The Associated PressWASHINGTON (AP) — Make it 600 goals and counting for Alex Ovechkin, and give the Washington Capitals two more points for the tough playoff race in the Eastern Conference.
Ovechkin scored twice in another historic performance, and Evgeny Kuznetsov had the overtime winner as the Capitals returned to first place by beating the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 on Monday.
The 32-year-old Ovechkin scored during a 5-on-3 power play in the first period and then put back a rebound past Connor Hellebuyck for No. 600 in the second. The Russian winger became the 20th player and fourth-fastest in NHL history to the milestone and is on pace to lead the league in goals for the seventh time with 42 on the season.
“Of course it’s special,” he said. “You can see when I score the goal, everybody tried to find me, everybody tried to look at me. I knew if I’m gonna have another one, I’m gonna score.”
Ovechkin continued a season-long trend of scoring a high volume of goals for the Capitals, who lost significant talent from back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy-winning teams. He has roughly a fifth of Washington’s goals this season and needed to be on his game against Patrik Laine and Winnipeg.
Laine entered with an 11-game point streak and scored his 41st goal of the season to make it 16 in his past 12. Nikolaj Ehlers also scored a 4-on-4 goal for Winnipeg, which got 40 saves from Connor Hellebuyck.
But everyone was left in awe of the great Ovechkin, who could become the first player age 32 or older to lead the NHL in goals since Phil Esposito in 1974-75.
“I’m sure one day we’ll look at it and get perspective on it,” Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said. “But it’s all a part of this process and he’s not fazed by it. He said the other day 40’s good but 50’s nicer and he’s going to get 50 goals. You can just tell he’s very, very determined and he is a historic player.”
Ovechkin joined Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Brett Hull as the only players to score 600 in fewer than 1,000 games.
Fleury wins 400th game
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Marc-Andre Fleury made 38 saves to become the 13th goalie in NHL history with 400 career wins, and Ryan Carpenter scored the winning goal with 2:40 left to lead the Vegas Golden Knights over the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2.