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Alex Ovechkin inches closer to 700 career goals

Alex Ovechkin inches closer to 700 career goals

WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin is flying up the NHL leader board. 

Doesn’t matter if you want to specify this season or his career overall, Ovechkin’s hat trick on Thursday night in a 5-2 win against the New Jersey Devils helped in both cases.

Start with the big names. Ovechkin now has 689 career goals. He is inching closer to the magic 700 mark. Only seven NHL players in history have reached it. Before then he will pass Mario Lemieux (690) – fittingly maybe on Super Bowl Sunday Feb. 3 when the Capitals play the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Then Steve Yzerman (692) and Mark Messier (694) are up next. These are incredible names, the greatest to ever play the sport. Ovechkin has etched his name into the record books with them all.

“[Lemieux was] one of my idols when I'm growing up,” Ovechkin said. “I get lucky I have a time to play against him, was on the ice with him a couple times. It's huge….They're legends. To be close to those guys, it's pretty impressive.”

Just looking at this season: Ovechkin is now at 31 goals. He needs 19 more in his 32 remaining games to reach 50 for a record-tying ninth time. For a time this season that appeared to be drifting away from Ovechkin. Now? Seems reasonable. Ovechkin will miss the Jan. 27 game against the Montreal Canadiens to serve a suspension for skipping the All-Star game in St. Louis next week. 

Ovechkin has pulled to within five goals of Boston’s David Pastrnak for the NHL lead (36) and is in third place overall. Toronto’s Auston Matthews is second (34). 

“It seems like every week at least that he’s breaking someone’s record,” Capitals teammate John Carlson said. “And they’re not cupcake records, either. I’ve said this before. I don’t think that as a teammate you realize what’s happening. It kind of becomes maybe a little more normal than if you’re in a different job or on a different team even.”


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Alex Ovechkin's son, Sergei, makes an appearance during Capitals practice

Alex Ovechkin's son, Sergei, makes an appearance during Capitals practice

The Capitals had a special guest during their morning skate on Friday.

Alex Ovechkin's son, Sergei, got to pay his father a visit at the Medstar Capitals Iceplex.

Ovechkin carried his one-year-old around the ice and even put him down on the ice to practice his skills. Sergei had a mini stick of his own, almost like he was ready to play if needed.

No word yet on whether Sergei plans on declaring for the upcoming NHL draft, but the kid has already got some skills--and not to mention pretty good genes.

If you were having a bad day, this moment between Ovechkin and his son will certainly cheer you up!

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Capitals at Devils: Ovechkin sits just one away

Capitals at Devils: Ovechkin sits just one away

The Capitals (37-17-6) enter Saturday's game looking to rebound from a disastrous stretch that has seen them lose three straight and five of their last six. Will they be able to rebound against the New Jersey Devils (23-27-10)? Catch the game broadcast and all the pre and postgame action on NBC Sports Washington. Pregame coverage begins at 12 p.m. with Caps FaceOff Live followed by Caps Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. bringing you up to the 1 p.m. puck drop. Stick with NBC Sports Washington after the game broadcast for postgame coverage with Caps Postgame Live and Caps Overtime Live.

Here is what you need to know for Saturday's game.

One away

Alex Ovechkin snapped a season-long five-game goal drought on Thursday with his 699th career goal. He now sits just one away from becoming the eighth player in history to score 700 goals.

Changing things up

With Washington struggling, Todd Reirden made a few changes to the lines at Friday's practice. Evgeny Kuznetsov moves to the top line with Nicklas Backstrom moving down to the second. Brendan Leipsic is back in on the fourth line for Travis Boyd and the defense is shuffled up with Jonas Siegenthaler back on the third pair with Radko Gudas out.

Reirden cautioned that those may not be the lines he ultimately will settle on Saturday, but with no morning skate, Friday's lineup will very likely be what we see against the Devils.

Here are the lines from Friday's practice:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin - Lars Eller - Richard Panik
Brendan Leipsic - Nic Dowd - Garnet Hathaway

Brenden Dillon - John Carlson
Michal Kempny - Dmitry Orlov
Jonas Siegenthaler - Nick Jensen

Samsonov starts

With a game on Saturday and Sunday, Reirden was likely to split the goalie starts over the weekend and that is what he will do. Ilya Samsonov will start Saturday game while Braden Holtby will play Sunday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

This will be Samsonov's first game since getting pulled against the New York Islanders on Feb. 10 for the first time in his NHL career. Overall, it has been a great rookie season for Samsonov with a 16-4-1 record, 2.38 GAA and .917 save percentage. While the loss to the Islanders certainly cannot be laid on Samsonov's shoulders, the team defense was atrocious, it will be interesting to see how he responds to what was statistically his worst NHL game.

When last we met

Saturday's game will be the fourth and final meeting between Washington and New Jersey this season. The Caps have won two out of three, including the last time these two teams met on Jan. 16 at Capital One Arena.

Ovechkin took a stick to the face from Devils defenseman Miles Wood and left bloodied, but returned to the game to score twice in the first period and finished off the hat trick in the third.

Heading in the wrong direction

The Devils are not a good team, but don't make the mistake of thinking they will be a pushover. If you want to know how tough this stretch has been for Washington, the Caps are 11-11-1 since Dec. 23 and are tied with the New York Islanders for the fewest points in the Metropolitan Division during that stretch.

During that same stretch, lowly New Jersey has gone 12-8-5. Since Dec. 23, the Devils have arguably been the better team, at least in terms of the standings. If given the choice between the two rosters, obviously anyone would pick Washington's, but the record of both teams certainly reflects how difficult things have been for the Caps of late.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.