February 6, 2023

Washington Capitals left winger Alex Ovechkin waves as he celebrates his third-period objective towards the Winnipeg Jets on Friday in Washington. It was Ovechkin’s 802nd NHL objective.

Nick Wass/AP

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Nick Wass/AP

Washington Capitals left winger Alex Ovechkin waves as he celebrates his third-period objective towards the Winnipeg Jets on Friday in Washington. It was Ovechkin’s 802nd NHL objective.

Nick Wass/AP

WASHINGTON. Alex Ovechkin barely glanced on the empty web as he shot the puck into it, organising a wild celebration for his teammates and Washington Capitals followers.

By stealthily scoring a objective into an empty web, Ovechkin made historical past and one step nearer to breaking considered one of hockey’s most cherished information.

Ovechkin scored 801 and 802 targets on Friday evening and moved into second place on the NHL profession record. After beating Winnipeg Jets goaltender David Rittich within the first interval of a matchup with Gordie Howe, Ovechkin nearly reluctantly scored from behind the blue line a minute earlier than Mr. Hockey went by way of.

Solely Wayne Gretzky, with 894 targets, has scored extra, and Ovechkin is now 93 targets away from breaking a report that has lengthy appeared unattainable.

“Step-by-step guys,” Ovechkin stated after taking photographs with sons Sergei and Ilya and the enduring pucks. “Nonetheless far”.

Whereas it is going to take at the least one other couple of years to see if Ovechkin can problem Gretzky, the win over Howe was trigger for celebration. Followers chanted, “Ovi! Ovie! Ovie! all through Washington’s 4-1 win, by no means louder than after he hit an empty web.

Teammates did the identical within the locker room throughout a closed-door celebration as Jets gamers lined as much as shake Ovechkin’s hand in middle courtroom.

“I feel it’s only a present of respect, and for them it’s additionally historical past,” Ovechkin stated. “The sport is a recreation, however as quickly because the whistle blows, every part shall be about hockey. We respect one another.”

Ovechkin hit the publish with the primary shot on an empty web and missed one other attempt, passing the puck to fellow countryman Yevgeny Kuznetsov – and returning it. Even when he did not need to make historical past on this means, the longtime Washington captain was going to do no matter it took to get his crew to a fourth straight win.

“It is the sort of state of affairs the place you probably have an opportunity, you’re taking it,” Ovechkin stated. “I give it to Chiusi and he is like, ‘I do not need to take it.’ However after that, he is particular.”

Teammates jumped off the bench in celebration, and the world’s objective counter flipped to 802. A video of Howe’s son, Mark, adopted.

“On behalf of Gordie Howe, the man you simply handed, and on behalf of (my) mom Colleen and your complete Howe household, we simply need to congratulate you on this unbelievable achievement,” stated Mark Howe, introducing his father, who died in 2016 12 months. on the age of 88. “It was good to see you.”

Ovechkin had the hockey group watch him go after Howe for over every week after scoring a hat-trick to develop into the third participant with 800 targets. He survived a four-game drought earlier than breaking out on Friday.

“After the hat-trick, it took some time to get 800 factors and 802 factors,” stated middle Dylan Strome, who assisted Ovechkin on the primary objective of the sport. “Seeing the puck go in was only a reduction, I am certain for everybody.”

Ovechkin, after drawing with Howe, didn’t look happy to cease at 801. He bought the lead early within the second interval, and this time he was denied by Rittic – the 166th different goaltender he scored towards – and he had just a few extra probabilities as the sport progressed.

With the Capitals belatedly main 3-1 and Rittich demanding an additional hitter, followers chanted for Ovechkin to get on the ice. He and coach Peter Laviolette mentioned to not power the state of affairs, however when it was Ovechkin’s flip, he did not miss his probability.

“There’s one thing good about what he does offensively when the goalkeeper is out of the online,” Laviolette stated. “We’ve not modified something and this can be a particular second, a particular evening.”

For Ovechkin, the presence of his spouse Nastya and his sons was particular. Minutes after 4-year-old Sergei and 2-year-old Ilya sat on his lap within the dressing room, Ovechkin beamed too, understanding his mother and father have been watching him from their dwelling in Moscow.

“Very emotional,” Ovechkin stated. “Doing this with a house viewers is particular. They totally assist me, and that is fairly vital. It is a historic second. It is good to be on this class of gamers. It is fairly cool.”

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