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Alex Ovechkin nets point No. 1,000 in grand fashion

Alex Ovechkin nets point No. 1,000 in grand fashion

Alex Ovechkin earned his 1,000th point in the most fitting way imaginable for one of hockey's great showmen.

It came on a scintillating toe-drag and shot just 35 seconds into Wednesday's game. At home in front of his mom, dad, brother, wife and adoring fans. On national television. With the hated Penguins in town.

And, of course, with a little help from Nicklas Backstrom.

“I don’t know how many times he has assist me on my goals,” Ovechkin said of his longtime setup man. “He’s the guy who I enjoy playing with and we understand each other well. Good chemistry together since Day One.”

That chemistry was once again on display as Backstrom set up both of Ovechkin’s goals in a commanding 5-2 Caps' victory. Dating to Backstrom’s rookie season, the soft-spoken Swede has assisted on 204 of 448 goals, or almost 46 percent of Ovechkin’s goals.  

“You can attach Backy’s name to so many of Ovi’s goals,” Coach Barry Trotz said, “that it was only fitting that his name would be there.”

And it was—with a quickness.

RELATED: Alex Ovechkin reaches yet another milestone with his 1,000th point

Ovechkin ended any suspense before everyone had settled into their seats with a goal that will no doubt end up on his all-time highlight reel. After catching Backstrom’s pass, the Caps’ captain darted into the zone, made a strong move to the inside, toe-dragged the Penguins’ best defenseman, Kris Letang, and then ripped a shot past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

“Yeah, I kind of think about it before the game, everybody’s here and it will be nice to get 1,000th point at home,” Ovechkin said. “Pretty excited, pretty happy. It’s a big moment for organization, for myself and for my teammates.”

Ovechkin downplayed the significance of hitting a thousand on a goal rather an assist.

“To be honest with you, I don’t care,” he said. “Point is a point and obviously goal is a goal. I’ll take it and move forward.”

Added Backstrom: “Every night he plays hard, so nothing new. He wants to score goals, and he wants to help the team as much as he can. It wasn’t really any surprises there, but the only thing that was a little surprising was maybe 35 seconds. That’s all it took. But that’s typical for a guy like him, though.”

Trotz said the look on Ovechkin’s face as he raced past the bench on that first shift let him know something special was about to happen.

“That was a great start for him and for us,” Trotz said. “He sort of had that look in his eye once he touched the puck that something good was going to happen.”

“Real happy for him,” Trotz continued. “I know the guys are thrilled for him. Obviously, a little history. I said to him in Montreal, I said that, 'It was really, really sort of cool that you got the Maurice Richard, tied the record in Montreal, but I think it's only fitting that you get the 1,000th point here for our fans.' So, he did it, and it didn't take much time.”

It was also appropriate that Ovechkin achieved the milestone as the Capitals’ collective game—as well as his own—are on the ascent.

Washington has won a season-high seven games in a row and eight of their last 10 (8-1-1). Ovechkin, meanwhile, netted goals No. 20 and 21 and is now tied for third with Patrik Laine and Auston Matthews. Going back 15 games, the 31-year-old sniper has nine goals and seven assists in that span.

Even on a night that was all about him, Ovechkin preferred to talk about the roll his team finds itself on.

“I think you can see how we play 5-on-5, obviously penalty kill do an unbelievable job and [Braden Holtby is] unstoppable right now,” he said. “He reminds me how he played last year.”

As for the winning streak, Ovechkin acknowledged that it’s nice. But he quickly pointed out this season is all about timing.

“We’re winning,” he said, “but I hope the best hockey’s going to be a little bit later.”

MORE CAPITALS: Putting Ovechkin's 1,000th point in perspective

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All of the round robin scenarios tied to Capitals vs. Flyers

All of the round robin scenarios tied to Capitals vs. Flyers

If you're a Capitals fan, you may be tired of hearing about how these round robin games "matter." With the other teams playing actual playoff series, it's hard to view the round robin games the same way. While there may not be as much on the line Thursday for the Caps and the Philadelphia Flyers (4 p.m., NBC Sports Washington) as there is in the qualification series, that doesn't mean Thursday's game doesn't matter. With only three round robin games, there is a lot riding on this game.

Here are the standings heading in:

Tampa Bay 4 points (2 games played)
Philadelphia 2 points (1 game played)
Washington 1 point (1 game played)
Boston 0 points (2 games played)

With that in mind, here are all the possible scenarios for the Caps in Thursday's game.

If the Caps win in regulation...

Washington will finish ahead of Boston, but can still finish in first, second or third overall. The Caps will finish in first if they beat Boston on Sunday AND Tampa Bay loses in regulation to Philadelphia on Saturday.

If the Caps win in overtime or a shootout...

The scenario is exactly the same as above. Washington will finish ahead of Boston, but can still finish in first, second or third overall. The Caps will finish in first if they beat Boston on Sunday AND Tampa Bay loses in regulation to Philadelphia on Saturday.

It doesn't matter if the win is in regulation, overtime or a shootout. Just win baby.

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If the Caps lose in overtime or a shootout...

Washington could finish in second, third or fourth place, but will be out of the running for first. The Caps will earn second place if they beat Boston in the round robin finale AND Philadelphia loses in regulation to Tampa Bay on Saturday.

If the Caps lose in regulation...

The highest Washington could finish is in third place. The winner of Sunday's Boston-Washington game will determine who is in third and who is fourth.

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T.J. Oshie shows you don't always have to have a letter on your chest to be a leader

T.J. Oshie shows you don't always have to have a letter on your chest to be a leader

When T.J. Oshie took to the ice on Monday for the round robin game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, he did so with an "A" on his chest. With John Carlson out, his A went to Oshie. It was not a major talking point before the game and was mentioned only briefly afterward by head coach Todd Reirden. Oshie taking the A wasn't a major storyline not because no one cared, it was because no one needed Oshie to wear a letter to know he was a leader.

In the second period against the Tampa Bay, Oshie dropped the gloves with Tampa Bay forward Yanni Gourde in the second period while the Caps were down 2-0 and struggling to find any intensity in their game. Less than five minutes later, the game was tied at 2. It was the clear turning point of the game and helped the Caps earn a point in a game that looked like it was getting away from them.

"He has an A on his jersey without Carlson and clearly a leadership move right there and the results speak for themselves," head coach Todd Reirden said. "He does a tremendous job with our leadership group and that was another signal of the type of person he is, the character he has.”

The energy Oshie brings to a team is evident. You can watch his interviews, see his interactions with his family or even check out the butt tap. That type of energy is contagious and goes a long way towards loosening a team up and giving them confidence in key moments.

"He is a great teammate and everything he does inside the locker room on a daily basis that everyone doesn’t get to see," Nicklas Backstrom said, "He is always positive, comes in with a lot of energy."

He added, "[Oshie] brings everything to the table."

But it's not just about what he does off the ice that makes him a leader.

Oshie has fought before, but no one would label him a "fighter." It's not something he does not do often -- his last fight came back in May of 2018 against Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang -- but he did it when the team needed it on Monday and that's what makes Oshie a leader.

If the team needs a goal, Oshie scores. If the team is in a shootout, Oshie always goes. If the team needs a fight, he drops the gloves.

That fight against Letang? It came in the final minute of Game 4 in the second-round series against the Penguins. After that game, Washington would not lose to Pittsburgh again.

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When it comes to talking about the Caps as a contender, we can talk about the skill they have, the size, the speed, etc., but there's something else to consider: The leaders. The fact that the Caps can turn to someone like Oshie to wear the A when needed is a sign of the amount of leadership on the roster. And that's not even including guys like Braden Holtby, Lars Eller or Tom Wilson, a player many believe will be the next C after Ovechkin.

In terms of leaders, Washington is full of them.

And that's evident when a player like Oshie steps onto the ice wearing an A and no one notices. That's because he's always been a leader and it doesn't take wearing a letter for his teammates to recognize it.

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