ovechkin strikes again, now two away from 600

BY BRIAN MCNALLY | MARCH 4, 2018

ANNAPOLIS — Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored his 40th goal of the season on Saturday. So, what else is new?

Ovechkin became the sixth NHL player to score that many goals in nine or more NHL seasons with his tally at 6:19 of the first period against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Stadium Series game at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium as part of the Capitals’ 5-2 win Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“Forty is nice, but 50’s better,” Ovechkin said. “I still have time to do that. But you have to focus and you have to keep playing and use your chances and it will come.”

Ovechkin added to his league-leading goal total and has 72 points. He joined Wayne Gretzky (12), Marcel Dionne and Mario Lemieux (10), and Mike Bossy and Mike Gartner (nine) as the only players with at least nine 40-goal seasons.

Ovechkin now sits at 598 career goals and is two away from becoming the 20th NHL player to record 600. Home fans might not got to see it happen unless they’re night owls this week. Washington has a three-game road trip in California starting Tuesday with a 10 p.m. game against Anaheim. That’s followed by a 10:30 p.m. start Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings, and a Saturday afternoon contest against the San Jose Sharks.

“I don’t think you can be surprised by anything [Ovechkin] does or surpasses or any type of way he scores goals because it feels like he’s done it every way and he does it every way consistently,” T.J. Oshie said. “So for him to get 40 again, for how consistently he scores goals year-in and year-out and game-in and game-out, there’s just no other guy that I’ve seen like him.”

Ovechkin just set the franchise record for games played last Monday (983), surpassing defenseman Calle Johansson. He will play his 1,000th game, barring injury, on April 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. And as he said – 50 is better than 40. He has a chance to reach that mark for the eighth time.    

The three-time Hart Trophy winner as NHL MVP has an outside shot to win it again if he has a strong finish and the Capitals unexpectedly win the Metropolitan Division. At 37-21-7, they have 81 points and are two ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers (79 points) and three ahead of the Penguins (78), who have played one extra game. Washington has 17 games remaining.

“My linemates, my teammates do great job to find me over there,” Ovechkin said before his cell phone rang at the press conference table and he sheepishly turned it off. “I just have to do my job to put the puck in. It’s working.”

Photo by Brian McNally for The Sports Capitol

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