Alex Ovechkin reaches milestone in Washington Capitals' win vs. Ottawa Senators

By The Sports Xchange  |  Jan. 11, 2016 at 1:26 AM
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WASHINGTON -- On a night in which the Washington Capitals matched their season-high goal total, 30-year-old captain Alex Ovechkin stole the spotlight and basked in its glow.

Ovechkin became the fifth-fastest player to record his 500th NHL goal and added his 501st for good measure, leading the Capitals to a 7-1 rout over goaltender Andrew Hammond and the Ottawa Senators. It was Ovechkin's 801st NHL game.

"It's nice to be in that spot," Ovechkin said. "It's a history moment. I wave and blew a kiss to my dad and my mom. My dad quit is his job and spend all his time with me. Basically he was my personal coach when I was a little kid and for him it was a special moment. It's a pretty special moment for them."

Forwards Justin Williams, T.J. Oshie, Zach Sill and Tom Wilson, and defenseman Dmitry Orlov also scored goals for the Capitals, who improved to an NHL best 32-7-3. The Capitals are now 13-1-1 in their last 15 games.

The Senators' only offense came from forward Mike Hoffman, who netted his team-high 20th goal of the season in early in the second period. Fighting for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference standings, Ottawa has lost five of its last six and eight of its last 10.

"It's obviously a tough one to swallow," said Hammond, who allowed seven goals on 36 shots. "It's one of those night where you figure out pretty early you're not at your best, but you've got to find a way to keep your team in it and I wasn't able to do that tonight."

It's been quite a first half of the season for Ovechkin, who in November became the NHL's leading Russian-born goal scorer. Last week, Ovechkin was named captain of the Metropolitan Division for the NHL All-Star Game.

Ovechkin's milestone goal came on the power play, where he positioned himself in the left circle. He cradled a long pass from teammate Jason Chimera and snapped a hard shot past Hammond for his team-high 25th goal of the season.

"My job is to put the puck in and I tried to do my best," Ovechkin said.

The Capitals hopped over the bench to embrace Ovechkin, who waved to the fans.

"No disrespect to the Senators when we all jumped on the ice there," Oshie said, "but we couldn't contain ourselves. 'O' didn't know about it, but we wanted to be out there and celebrate with him."

Ovechkin's goal gave the Capitals a 5-1 lead after two periods and he stepped into the spotlight again midway through the third period, beating Hammond with a mad dash to the net at the 9:46 mark.

His second goal of the night gave him the NHL lead with 26 goals, one more than Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn.

Four other NHL players have gotten to 500 goals faster than the 30-year-old Ovechkin, who is in his 11th NHL season.

Wayne Gretzky netted his 500th goal in his 575th game at the age of 25. Mario Lemieux needed 605 games to hit the 500 milestone at the age of 30. Mike Bossy netted his 500th in his 647th game at the age of 28, and Brett Hull did it in 693 games at age 32.

"It's nice to be in that category, with those names," Ovechkin said. "It's really hard to score in this league right now, system-wise and how the goalies play. If you get to 30 goals or 35 goals you're lucky. Without my teammates and our system, it's really hard for me to do."

NOTES: Capitals C Marcus Johansson served the second game of his two-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of Islanders D Thomas Hickey on Thursday night. C Zach Sill returned from his two-game suspension for a hit from behind on Boston Bruins D Adam McQuaid. Forwards Mike Richards (conditioning) and Michael Latta (upper body) were scratches for Washington. Senators D Erik Karlsson entered the game leading all defensemen with 36 assists. The Senators continue their five-game road trip Wednesday night in Los Angeles. The Capitals return to action on Thursday night at home against the Vancouver Canucks.

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