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Caps honor Ovechkin with pregame red carpet ceremony

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Caps honor Ovechkin with pregame red carpet ceremony

Not many players reach 500 goals. Even fewer do it in 801 games. On Thursday, the Capitals honored captain Alex Ovechkin for reaching the 500 goal milestone in a ceremony that took place on the ice prior to their game against the Vancouver Canucks.

Ted Leonsis, team president Dick Patrick and general manager Brian MacLellan were joined on the ice by Ovechkin's parents and his fianc√© Nastya Shubskaya. A video tribute was then played over that included congratulatory messages from some of the biggest names in hockey history including Brett Hull, Peter Bondra (who received quite the ovation), Sergei Fedorov, Pavel Bure, Pierre Turgeon, Luc Robitaille, Mike Gartner, Lanny McDonald, Jarome Iginla, Steve Yzerman, Phil Esposito and Teemu Selanne. It finished with a message from the Great One himself, Wayne Gretzky.

After the video, Ovechkin was announced to the crowd and he skated to center ice amid thunderous applause. Leonsis then presented him with a gold hockey stick with the date in which he scored No. 500, the score, the opponent and a message from the team on the blade.

You can watch the full ceremony and video tribute in the video above.

Ovechkin is only the 43rd player in NHL history to reach 500 goals and he was the fifth fastest to do it with only 801 career games. Only Wayne Gretzky (575 games), Mario Lemieux (605), Mike Bossy (647) and Brett Hull (693) got there faster.

RELATED: Could Ovechkin ever catch Gretzky?

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Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

Alan May knows a thing or two about the trade deadline.

Over the course of his NHL career, May was traded five total times, four at the trade deadline. He sits down with Rob Carlin on a special edition of the Capitals Extra Podcast to tell stories from his playing days about what it was like getting traded.

This one's a can't miss for hockey fans. You can listen to the episode here on the Capitals Extra page or with the player below.

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NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!