Sometimes hockey players are fans, too.
On the eve of Alex Ovechkin scoring his 700th career goal – he will become only the eighth player in NHL history to do so – Capitals Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov sat with their longtime teammate to watch some of Ovechkin’s greatest goals.
Hosted by NBC Sports Washington play-by-play broadcaster Joe Beninati in the video room at MedStar Iceplex, the group gathered to watch Ovechkin’s greatest individual moments.
The Capitals host the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night at Capital One Arena with Ovechkin sitting on 698 career goals. The game can be seen on NBC Sports Washington at 7 p.m.
Backstrom and Kuznetsov’s reactions ranged from gleeful laughter to silent awe. And these are players who were on the ice for many of these great moments. There was, of course, The Goal – Ovechkin’s most famous tally in a 2006 game against the Arizona Coyotes.
“When I saw it, I was just stunned,” said Backstrom, who had been drafted by the Capitals but was still playing in Sweden. “People were talking about it like it was the nicest goal of all time.”"
"I don’t think I ever see somebody try to do that,” Kuznetsov said. “It’s pretty much impossible.”
Wayne Gretzky was the Coyotes’ coach at the time. The NHL’s all-time leading scorer – who’s goal record of 894 Ovechkin is now chasing – looked up at the scoreboard to see a replay of the goal and could only blink in astonishment.
Ovechkin admitted that when the Capitals returned from their road trip, he and teammates Matt Bradley, Boyd Gordon and Chris Clark spent time after practice trying to recreate The Goal.
“I’d miss the puck or I’d hit the net with my neck,” Ovechkin joked. “But it was a pretty goal, especially back then. It’s just an automatic reaction. I couldn’t even see where the net was. I fell. I looked at the goalie. If I hit it, I hit it. If not…”
Ovechkin did hit it and left NHL fans, including his future teammates, with a lasting memory.
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