With the Verizon Center literally shaking its approval of Alex Ovechkin and his historic 500th goal, the Capitals’ 30-year-old captain put aside his stick, skated to center ice and applauded the sellout crowd of 18,506.
“Every day, every game they suppport us, they support me, and they deserve to be in this moment,” Ovechkin said. “It’s nice to be in that spot. It’s a history moment.”
After applauding the fans, Ovechkin took a moment to seek out his father, Mikhail, and mother, Tatyana, and blew them kisses.
“My dad quit his job and spent all his time with me,” Ovechkin said. “Basically, he was my personal coach when I was a little kid and for him it was a special moment. I didn’t see her (crying) but obviously, it’s a pretty special moment for her.”
Ovechkin began Sunday night’s game with multiple chances to score his 500th goal, but Ottawa goaltender Andrew Hammond stopped each of his first three shots and saw five more either blocked or whistle wide of the net.
“I had a pretty good chance in the first and I hit the crossbar and I thought maybe it’s not my time,” Ovechkin said.
The Capitals had built a 4-1 lead and were on the power play when Ovechkin positioned himself in the left faceoff circle and received what he called a “sick” pass from Jason Chimera.
“If you don’t take a shot you don’t score,” Ovechkin reasoned. “So I took a shot and it went in.”
Within seconds, Ovechkin was mobbed by his teammates, who leaped off the bench to join in the celebration. Caps right wing T.J. Oshie said the celebration was planned.
“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.”
“I didn’t expect it,” Ovechkin said. “After the second period Chimmer (Jason Chimera) said that was the plan.”
In the locker room after the game, the white board that normally has the names and numbers of opposing teams’ line combinations and defense pairings was covered with hand-written 8s, a tribute to the Capitals’ captain, who became the fifth-fastest player to score 500 goals, behind Wayne Gretzky (575 games), Mario Lemieux (605), Mike Bossy (647) and Brett Hull (693). Ovechkin’s goal came in his 801st game.
“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.”
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