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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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Capital One Bank just made a Caps-themed update to its logo and we're here for it

Capital One Bank just made a Caps-themed update to its logo and we're here for it

Capital One is repping the district in a big way: by changing their logo to incorporate the Capitals' font and name. 

The new Capital One logo appears on the bank's websites and social media ahead of the Caps' Stanley Cup Final games, which begin on Memorial Day Monday in Vegas.

The McLean, Virginia, based bank recently purchased the naming rights to the Capitals' home arena, formerly known as "Verizon Center." And in the first year of its renaming, the Capitals have advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 20 years. Coincidence? 

We've seen a small, Northern Virginia town change its name to "Capitalsville," and now Capital One Bank is all-in for the Caps.

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Want the Stanley Cup? Five ways the Caps can beat the Golden Knights

Want the Stanley Cup? Five ways the Caps can beat the Golden Knights

The Caps stand just four wins away from winning their first Stanley Cup. To get those four wins, however, they will have to beat the Vegas Golden Knights.

Here are the keys to the series that will give the Caps the win.

Figure out how to beat Marc-Andre Fleury

No player has been as important to his team this postseason as Fleury is to the Golden Knights. He is reason No. 1, 2 and 3 why they have made their improbable run to the Stanley Cup Final in the team’s inaugural season.

Fleury’s personal numbers are staggering. Through 15 games, he has a .947 save percentage and has recorded four shutouts.

Vegas has been a middle of the pack team in terms of offense this postseason scoring 2.87 goals per game. They have lost only three playoff games thus far, but, as dominant as they have been, they certainly are not blowing away the competition. Of their 12 wins, ten of them have come with a margin of victory of two goals or less.

This shows you just how important Fleury is to their success. They are not scoring opponents into submission, rather they are relying on Fleury to keep opponents at bay.

Fleury is the absolute key to the Golden Knights’ success. It’s easier said than done, but if the Caps find a way to beat him consistently, Vegas becomes exponentially more beatable.

Win the neutral zone battle

Much of this series will be determined between the blue lines. The Golden Knights are an incredibly fast team.

Just to get to this point, the Caps had to beat two other speedy teams in the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning. They did it primarily by slowing down the offense in the neutral zone with a 1-3-1 trap. With so many bodies defending in the neutral zone, opponents have struggled to break the puck cleanly into the Caps’ defensive zone. The Caps are cutting off passing and skating lanes, creating turnovers and generating odd-man breaks in the other direction by catching opponents’ defensemen playing too aggressively on the rush.

As fast as the Penguins and Lightning were, however, the Golden Knights are even faster. Will the trap be as effective against Vegas?

Limit obstruction penalties

When playing against a team with speed, penalties often become a major issue. When trying to defend against fast players, if you get caught flat-footed or out of position, this tends to lead to obstruction penalties like tripping and hooking. When a player realizes he’s been beat, he does everything he can to prevent that from costing his team, leading to those type of penalties.

Vegas’ power play has not been lights out by any means with a success rate of only 17.6-percent this postseason, but you cannot continually give the opposition chances to score by frequently having a player sent to the penalty box.

Positioning is going to make all the difference in the world in this series to make sure a player is not forced into taking an obstruction penalty just to slow down the Golden Knights.

Get off to good starts

Vegas is 10-1 in the postseason when scoring first. Their secret to success is a mix between goaltending and speed.

Fleury has been phenomenal in net and the Golden Knights are a quick breakout team. It is very hard to get much sustained offensive pressure against them because once they get the puck, they are going down the ice at a million miles an hour.

Having to play from behind against a team like Vegas is not a recipe for success. Just getting the puck and keeping up with them is exhausting. Having to then find a way to then beat Fleury when he has a lead to protect is all the more daunting.

Strong starts will be vital to ensuring the Caps are not frequently having to play from behind.

Depth scoring

Vegas head coach Gerard Gallant likes to roll his four lines. It makes sense since there drop-off between his top line and fourth line is not as dramatic as it is on most NHL teams.

Consider how this team was constructed. The expansion draft did not give Vegas access to superstar players, but they also did not have to take any fringe NHL/healthy scratch players to fill the fourth line either. They filled their roster with the best players available to them which gives them four lines of much more comparative strength than most NHL teams.

While this means the Caps have a stronger top six, it also allows Vegas to roll four lines and take advantage of other teams’ bottom six.

You can never take a shift off against Vegas. There is no weak line to exploit. The Golden Knights come at you with four lines and relentless pressure and forecheck for 60 minutes.

Washington will probably get more production from its top six than Vegas will, or at the very least it will be a push. The question is what kind of production will each team get from the bottom six? If the Caps have the edge in depth production as well, they will be in good shape.

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