After the Washington Capitals mobbed each other at center ice following their defeat of the San Jose Sharks in overtime Sunday, the players disappeared down the tunnel leading to their locker room.
By the time the media entered the space few minutes later, all but a few players had retreated from sight. In the corner, Alex Ovechkin’s equipment hung where the Capitals captain usually holds court in front of reporters clad in a red towel. The Russian dynamo had little reason to speak. He had played just 17 minutes and 40 seconds of the 62 minute game, his fifth-lowest time on ice of the year. For the third straight game, he had failed to register more than three shots on goal.
But Tuesday night against the Senators, Ovechkin put on an excellent performance and moved further up the NHL’s record lists. His two goals placed him 11th all-time, tied with Teemu Selanne.
After being invisible on the ice for a week, Ovechkin was the center of attention, the game’s first star and is ever closer to 700 career goals.
”It’s amazing,” Capitals head coach Todd Reirden said. “In D.C. to be able to watch a guy like this play for the Capitals is such a privilege for people around here. ... A legend in goal-scoring.”
First, Ovechkin scored a slick goal that he guided through two sets of skates. Ovechkin, 34, laughed and pointed to the net after being denied a goal by inches on the previous shift.
With three minutes and change left in the game with and a 5-1 lead, Ovechkin reminded hockey fans why he is still one of the NHL’s marquee attractions with his second tally of the game and 26th of the season. It was a marker that furthered his transcendent hockey career.
After John Carlson gathered a puck at the half-wall and fired the puck cross-ice, Ovechkin blasted the puck on one-timer from the Ovi Spot and fell to his knees.
It was Ovechkin’s 684th career goal. But for Ovi, it still isn’t enough. After all, he is 210 goals shy of Wayne Gretzky’s record.
”A long way to go,” Ovechkin said. “I’m trying my best.”