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Ovechkin excited at chance to pass Fedorov


Ovechkin excited at chance to pass Fedorov

There is a photo floating around the Twitter-verse of a young Alex Ovechkin in a black and white Sergei Fedorov jersey.

“I was probably like, maybe 12,” Ovechkin said on Monday, hours before Fedorov will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. “I was a big fan of all Russian players.”

On Tuesday night in Detroit, Ovechkin will have the chance to pass Fedorov as Russia’s all-time leading NHL goal scorer. The fact he can reach the milestone in front of Fedorov, who will be honored by the Red Wings before the game, seems surreal to the Capitals’ 30-year-old captain.

“You always want to be No. 1 and when you have a chance to beat it in front of him it’s going to be nice,” said Ovechkin, whose 483 NHL goals are tied with Fedorov for most by a Russian-born player.

“It’s going to be a special moment for me. It’s going to be nice to see him up there. It’s a big moment for him and for me as well -- if I’m going to break it. You never know.”

Fedorov, who played alongside Ovechkin for parts of his final two seasons in the NHL, told reporters in Toronto he would like to see Ovechkin break his record Tuesday night at Joe Louis Arena.

“I would hug him in his uniform," Fedorov said. "He'd be all wet and my suit would be ruined, but I wouldn't care. I'll put it somewhere in the closet. I'd cherish that moment.”

Ovechkin says he cherishes the time he spent playing with Fedorov, who was acquired by the Caps late in the 2007-08 season when Ovechkin carried the Capitals into the playoffs with a monster 65-goal, 112-point season.

“I had a huge privilege to play with him and the luck to be on the same team and on the same line,” Ovechkin said. “He was the best teammate I ever had and the best player I ever had.

“He was almost like a Dad because Bruce (Boudreau) didn’t have experience with the playoffs and he kind of was a player and a coach at the same time. He helped with what we had to do on the ice and how to play.”

MORE CAPS: NHL Power Rankings

Fedorov, who played with Ovechkin in the 2010 Winter Olympics, finished his NHL career with 483 goals in 1,248 games over 18 seasons. He said he’s not surprised that Ovechkin has caught him after just 772 games over 11 seasons and believes there are hundreds of more goals left in Ovechkin’s sticks.

“He can score double that total in no time,” Fedorov told Puck Daddy. “And I wish him that.”

For a few brief moments Saturday night, Ovechkin experienced what it was like to be Russia’s leading goal scorer when he thought he scored his 484th goal and celebrated by taking his glove off and raising his index finger in the air. A few minutes later, the excitement of that moment was snuffed out when referee Brad Meier announced that a video review determined Justin Williams made contact with goaltender James Reimer, overturrning the on-ice ruling and taking the goal away from Ovechkin.

Maybe there was poetic justice in that decision because Ovechkin now can make history in the city that embraced Fedorov and the other members of the famed Russian Five – Igor Larionov, Vyacheslav Kozlov, Vladimir Konstantinov and Viacheslav Fetisov – two decades ago.      

“I respect what he did for Russian hockey and what he did for my career,” Ovechkin said.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz, who seems more interested in getting out of Detroit with two points, said he’s grown to understand what Ovechkin’s place in Russian hockey means to him.

“He’s very, very proud of the Russian culture,” Trotz said. “Some players are proud of their countries, but with Alex he’s proud about tradition and heritage, and family is really close to him. That’s really outstanding, He’s Americanized, if you will, but he’s not. He respects Russian traditions and that comes from his parents and his upbringing.”

As for his teammates, they are also anxious to see Ovechkin accomplish a personal goal none of them could ever reach.

“We’ve played together for a decade now and every day is fun coming to the rink to play with Alex,” Caps left wing Brooks Laich said. “Every day I get to ride alongside a guy who has a special ability. As far as I’m concerned, he’s probably the best pure goal scorer the game has ever seen. When he breaks that record I’m going to jump for joy for him because it’s going to be a very, very special moment.”

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

The Caps could not shake Buffalo for two periods, but a dominant finish on Saturday helped them pull away for a 5-1 win. Here's how they finally put away the Sabres.

A quick start

Strong starts go a long way towards helping a team in the middle of a slump. It's a confidence boost for a group in desperate need of one and the Caps got that boost on Saturday from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov used his wheels to zip in behind the defense and score just 50 seconds into the game. Washington led 1-0 at the end of the first, just the second time in 19 games they have held a lead after the opening 20 minutes.


Andre Burakovsky snapping a second period slump

It looked in the second period like the Caps were caught trying to protect the lead again, but Andre Burakovsky woke the team back up with his incredible highlight end-to-end goal. It really looked like Buffalo was going to tie the game at one, but instead, Burakovsky extended the lead to two. Going end to end the way he did shows a player who is starting to play with some confidence, something Burakovsky has lacked for much of the season.

Ovechkin's two-goal third period

Buffalo would not go away. Sam Reinhart got the Sabres on the board just 14 seconds into the third period and suddenly the Caps found themselves in a one-goal game again. But Ovechkin ended any hopes for the comeback as he struck in the top corner of the net on the power play from the office. He would later add a deflection goal to extend the lead to 5-1, giving a scuffling Washington team the dominant win they so sorely needed.

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3 stars of the game: Caps erupt in 3rd for dominant win over Sabres

3 stars of the game: Caps erupt in 3rd for dominant win over Sabres

The Capitals needed a win in the worst way and they got one, dispatching the Buffalo Sabres in dominating fashion with a 5-1 win.

Washington was locked in a tight game leading 2-0 heading into the third period when Sam Reinhart scored just 14 seconds into the period to pull Buffalo to within one. The Caps then slammed the door shut, scoring three unanswered goals to put away the Sabres.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Alex Ovechkin: This was career game No. 983 for Ovechkin, tying him for the franchise record for most games played with Calle Johansson. Ovechkin very fittingly celebrated the occasion with two goals. The first came on a power play goal from the office, but there was no need for a one-timer on this one. The Sabres gave him all the time he needed to aim up the shot and wrist it into the top corner.

He added a second goal late off a deflection from a John Carlson shot.

2. Evgeny Kuznetsov: To say the Caps have struggled at the start of games would be an understatement. In the last 18 games, Washington has held the lead after the first period only once. Kuznetsov made sure this game started off on the right foot as he scored just 50 seconds into the game. He turned on the jets in the neutral zone to turn the edge on Jason Pominville then easily skated around a weak, ill-advised challenge from Robin Lehner before flinging the puck into the yawning net.

It was the fastest goal to start a game by the Caps this season. It was just the start of what would be a four-point night for the Caps' center as he added three assists.

3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky had the highlight of the game with his end-to-end goal in the second period to put Washington up 2-0. He looked like he was shot out of a cannon as he launched himself from the defensive zone, streaked down the center of the ice and in on net to slide the puck through the Lehner's five-hole.

Look how Burakovsky was able to slice through the Sabres' defense. Buffalo had him surrounded, but his speed caught the Sabres off-guard and they were not able to recover in time to actually slow him down.