Capitals

Capitals

WASHINGTON – As T.J. Oshie slid the puck past a helpless Jacob Markstrom, Alex Ovechkin began swinging his arms in wild celebration. Ovechkin is never one to hold back when a teammate scores, but there was extra joy in Ovechkin’s reaction as he knew he had just passed another major career milestone.

Ovechkin picked up a secondary assist on the play for his 1,180th career point. That point pulled Ovechkin past Sergei Fedorov for the most points all-time by a Russian-born player. That would be a major milestone for any player, but especially for Ovechkin who takes great pride in his Russian heritage.

Now in the 14th season of his prolific career, it seems as if Ovechkin hits another milestone every other game. This one, however, seemed to mean more to him than many of the others and after the game, he was very reflective on his place in history.

“It was hard work, lots of hockey and I think I’m proud for my family, for my dad spending time all the time with me,” he said. “It’s history and I passed all those legends. You know, it’s pretty big and I appreciate everybody who do all work with me, my teammates, and it’s huge. When you start playing hockey and you came to the NHL, you just have a dream to score one goal or two and now I’m No. 1 on the all-time Russian list. It’s pretty amazing.”

 

When you think about all the Russian legends to play the game, that list is pretty long and impressive. Pavel Datsyuk, Pavel Bure, Igor Larionov and, of course, Fedorov. Now Ovechkin has more points than all of them.

“Some amazing players that he's passed, and I think that means a lot for him,” Braden Holtby said. “He's very passionate about his country, so it means a lot for him.”

Ovechkin tied Fedorov on Jan. 23 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. It took three games for him to finally pass him, but despite the enormity of the accomplishment, it did not seem to weigh on his mind at all leading up to it. In fact, he said he thought Fedorov would be glad it was him who broke his record, given the relationship the two have.

“I talked to him and said it’s a huge honor,” Ovechkin said. “Obviously, we have a very good relationship and I’m pretty sure he’s pretty happy for me that I beat him.”

Ovechkin and Fedorov were teammates in Washington for parts of two seasons when Fedorov was acquired at the 2008 trade deadline to help the Caps make a run at the postseason. Ovechkin was also a fan of Fedorov’s growing up. Now he has surpassed him.

There is no doubt when Ovechkin walks away from the game that he will be considered one of the best to ever play. But given what he has already accomplished it does not seem a stretch at all to call him the best Russian player of all-time.

In his career, Ovechkin has scored 644 goals and 535 assists. No other active player has 550 goals. He ranks 14th all-time in goals scored, has won the Rocket Richard Trophy for the most goals in a season seven times, and the Hart Trophy as league MVP three times. In 2018 he finally led the Capitals to the first Stanley Cup in franchise history and took the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Tuesday’s milestone does not make that argument, it just adds to it.

“It's great what he's done for his country and more importantly what he's done for us as Capitals fans and people in Washington that have been really, I feel, fortunate to watch a generation talent like him,” head coach Todd Reirden said.

“How many players play in the league from Russia?” Ovechkin said. “Being No. 1 in that category list is something special.”

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