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Alex Ovechkin 1,000-point watch: One more to go

Alex Ovechkin 1,000-point watch: One more to go

Alex Ovechkin tied Canadiens legend Maurice “Rocket” Richard for 29th on the all-time goals list Monday night in Montreal.

The Capitals’ captain also put himself on the doorstep of a significant milestone.

With a goal and two assists in the Capitals’ 4-1 victory at Bell Centre, Ovechkin now stands at 999 career points.

And the best part of it all? He’ll get the chance to add the comma Wednesday night in front of a frenzied crowd at Verizon Center, on national television.

And, oh yeah, the rival Pittsburgh Penguins will be in town.

“He got real close to that 1,000th point,” Coach Barry Trotz told reporters in Montreal. “It’s right that he gets [a chance to get] it done in Washington in front of our own fans.”

Asked what the milestone means to him, Ovechkin cracked: “It means I’m getting older. I just remember my first year, my first game. It’s like it was five minutes ago. Time move forward and time move quick. So you have to enjoy every second of [every] moment. And when you have an opportunity, you have to try and do something special.”

RELATED: Holtby outshines Price in brilliant win over Habs

When Ovechkin gets there, he’ll become the 84th player to reach the 1,000 point plateau and just the fourth Russian-born player to accomplish the feat, joining Sergei Fedorov (1,179), Alexander Mogilny (1,032) and Alexei Kovalev (1,029).

Playing in his favorite road venue Monday, Ovechkin inched ever closer to that exclusive club .

The 31-year-old earned his 997th point with a primary assist on Nicklas Backstrom’s first period goal. He snagged 998 with a primary assist on Evgeny Kuznetsov’s third period strike, which ultimately proved to be the game-winner.

Then, on a late power play, Ovechkin earned point No. 999 on a power play goal that he whipped past Carey Price from the circle. The tally was Ovi’s 19th on the season and the 544th of his career, pulling him even with The Rocket while simultaneously salting the away Washington’s sixth straight win.

Ovechkin owns six Rocket Richard Trophies, the award given to the NHL’s leading goal scorer each season, the award he's claimed four years running.

“It’s nice to be in history,” he said. “It’s nice to be tied with a legend. I still have lots of years to go and I’m going to try and do my best.”

Trotz added: “Watching Ovi’s goal to tie The Rocket, [it was] an exceptional shot. There’s not too many guys on this planet that can let that release go the way he did. He beat Carey Price…that was a wrist shot that had some juice on it.”

When reporter asked Nicklas Backstrom about witnessing so many of Ovechkin's goals, the Swede jumped in and joked, “You want to hear about them? All of them?”

Backstrom then turned serious and added, “He can score from everywhere. I think that’s what makes him so special. And he’s got that special wrist shot, too. It’s fun to see. It’s exciting to play with him.”

The Caps will get Tuesday off to regroup after a two-game trip north of the border. And then the watch for #Ovech1Kin, as the team’s website has dubbed it, will be on high alert in Chinatown.

“He needs one more and then we’re going to celebrate a little, for sure, because that’s huge for the whole organization and, obviously, for all our country,” Kuznetsov said.

MORE CAPITALS: What makes Ovi so special? 'He can score from everywhere'

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Is Alex Ovechkin still the best winger in the NHL?

Is Alex Ovechkin still the best winger in the NHL?

When you win the Rocket Richard Trophy for the most goals, lead your team to a Stanley Cup and win the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP, you certainly belong in the discussion among the best in the game.

Even after Alex Ovechkin's incredible season, however, he falls just short of the top spot, according to NHL Network.

The NHL Network revealed the "Top 20 Wings Right Now" rankings as part of its countdown series on Sunday and Ovechkin came in second. Ahead of him was Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

A compelling case could certainly be made for both players. Kucherov finished third in the NHL in points with a career-high 100 points (29 goals, 61 assists). Ovechkin, meanwhile, led the NHL in goals with 49 in his 87-point season.

The main argument for Kucherov is that he is 25 while Ovechkin will turn 33 in September and the ranking is for "right now." Ovechkin, however, is still basking in the glow of the Caps' Stanley Cup run which happened just a short two months ago. He also beat and outplayed Kucherov when the Caps met the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final, outscoring him with seven points (four goals, three assists) compared to Kucherov's five (one goal, four assists).

Ovechkin's case is a compelling one as evidenced by the fact that he edged out Kucherov in the fan voting.

And then...there's analyst Mike Johnson who believes Ovechkin is neither No. 1 or No. 2. In fact, he barely cracks the top five.

Father Time is undefeated and there will come a point where Ovechkin begins to decline. But when the last competitive NHL hockey game was played, it featured an Ovechkin goal and him hoisting both the Conn Smythe and the Stanley Cup. Two months wasn't that long ago so perhaps we should not be expecting his production to fall off a cliff just yet.

The Great 8 has a way of making those quick to bury him look pretty foolish. Will he keep up that trend this season?

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2018-19 Metropolitan Division preview: Carolina Hurricanes

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USA TODAY Sports

2018-19 Metropolitan Division preview: Carolina Hurricanes

The Capitals have won the Metropolitan Division three straight years. Can they defend their title? Here’s a preview of each team in the division for the 2018-19 season.

Today's team: Carolina Hurricanes

2017-18 Results: 36-35-11, 83 points, sixth in the division. Did not qualify for the playoffs.

Notable acquisitions: F Micheal Ferland, F Andrei Svechnikov, D Dougie Hamilton, D Calvin de Haan, G Petr Mrazek, head coach Rod Brind’Amour

Notable departures: F Elias Lindholm, F Joakim Nordstrom, F Derek Ryan, F Jeff Skinner, F Lee Stempniak, D Noah Hanifin, G Cam Ward, head coach Bill Peters

When they will play the Caps: Dec. 14 in Raleigh, Dec. 27 in Washington, March 26 in Washington, March 28 in Raleigh

Offseason recap: The offseason was one of change for the Hurricanes as new owner Tom Dundon tried to make his mark. Peters and Ron Francis are out, Brind’Amour and Don Waddell are in as coach and general manager. Carolina’s new front office had a busy offseason with a number of splashy moves.

Hanifin, Lindholm and Skinner all will have new homes next season as the Hurricanes traded all three players in two big-time trades. Hanifin and Lindholm netted the team Hamilton, Ferland and a prospect while Skinner brought back a prospect, a second, a third and a sixth-round pick.

In addition, Carolina also added Svechnikov with the second-overall pick in the draft.

Biggest strength: Defense

Carolina was solid defensively last season, it just didn't seem that way because of how bad the goaltending was. Adding de Haan and Hamilton bolsters what was already a formidable blue line.

Biggest weakness: Goaltending

Did I mention how bad their goaltending was last season? Darling and Ward combined for a .909 save percentage, better only than the Buffalo Sabres. Ward put up better numbers (2.73 GAA, .906 save percentage) than Darling (3.18 GAA, .888 save percentage), but he has moved on to the Chicago Blackhawks. To replace him, the Hurricanes picked up Mrazek who also struggled last season (3.03 GAA, .902 save percentage).

So to recap, Ward and Darling both had subpar years, but to replace Ward the Hurricanes picked up a goalie who was worse.

It makes sense that Carolina would want to give Darling another shot at earning the starting job considering they traded for him to be their starter of the future, but just because the goaltending could not get much worse than last season is no guarantee it will be better.

2018-19 season outlook: The Hurricanes enter the season with a lot of question marks.

Can Brind'Amour handle the responsibilities of being a head coach in the NHL with zero head coaching experience at any level? Did they do enough to address their scoring woes? Will someone play like a starting-caliber goalie? Is Dundon breaking the mold of an NHL owner or will his meddling negatively impact the team? Will Hamilton adjust to his new team? Is Svetchnikov ready for a top-line role in his rookie season? Is Sebastian Aho a center?

If they can find positive answers to all of those questions, this is a team that could surprise. More likely, however, there are simply too many issues in Carolina right now for this team to make any real noise.

A new owner, new general manager, new head coach and a new-look roster are too much for one team to adjust to in one season.

2018-19 season prediction: The Hurricanes miss the playoffs and it's not close.