For as much as Alex Ovechkin has broken records and reached milestones this season, it’s gotten to the point where he doesn’t even know when it happens.
Late in Monday’s game against the Sabres at Capital One Arena, he picked up a secondary assist on a John Carlson power play goal apparently unbeknownst to him. It took him until the postgame press conference to find out he picked up that point, and in turn, his 600th career assist.
Paired with a deflection goal in the second period and an assist early in the first period off, yet again, a deflection by Tom Wilson, Ovechkin moved into a tie for fourth place all-time with Brett Hull on the league’s goal scoring list with 741 goals.
Ovechkin’s night gave him 11 goals and 21 points on the season, meaning he’s now third in the league in points (behind Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid) and first in goals — and he’s doing so at 36 years old.
“Alex, another strong game from him tonight,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “He just had a lot going on, he had a lot of pucks around his stick and at the net. He could’ve gotten another one or two tonight for sure. His linemates were awesome, Willy was terrific, Kuzy controlled the game. That line has been terrific, but Alex, for me, he just had a lot of opportunity tonight. He got one to go (in), he made some nice plays too.”
Ovechkin was just inches away from moving into sole possession of fourth place too, were it not for a weird deflection in front.
“If it wasn’t for me, he would have passed Hull,” Wilson quipped of his goal in the first period. “He tipped it off my arm or something. I should have just got out of the way and we would have been talking about (Jaromir) Jagr.”
With 70 regular season games left, Ovechkin is now 25 goals away from tying Jagr for third all-time. Even if (and likely when) he slows down this season, that number is still within reason.
"I just take it day by day,” Ovechkin said. “You know it's nice to be in that company. It's pretty big numbers so just move on. Obviously, it's nice to be tied but I still have a couple games left."
Still, it’s hard not to be mystified by the way Ovechkin has played this year considering he’s leading the league in goals at age 36, at a time when players half his age are beginning to enter the league.
There will undoubtedly be milestones to come, as his point and goal totals continue to rise as he puts more and more on his Hall-of-Fame resume.
He’s already stormed past Marcel Dionne this season, and if he has anything to say about it, Jagr is next.
“Yeah, it’s cool,” rookie Connor McMichael said. “I remember I had his jersey when I was about 8 years old and I was actually him for Halloween, so it’s pretty funny playing with him. He continues to do amazing things and I’m just fortunate enough to be along for the ride.”