LAS VEGAS — Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin enjoyed the biggest moment of his career inside T-Mobile Arena in 2018, when he skated the Stanley Cup around the rink after defeating the Vegas Golden Knights in the Final.
On Wednesday night, he enjoyed another milestone.
With two goals during a 4-3 overtime loss to the Knights, it marked the ninth time in Ovechkin’s career he scored 50 goals, tying Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky for most in NHL history.
“Obviously, it’s pretty good company,” said Ovechkin, the oldest player in NHL history to score 50 in a season. “Obviously lots of great memories, locker room, everything, hotel. It’s gonna stay here forever. Yeah, pretty fun moments.”
Moments including the one after his second goal Wednesday, when a boisterous group of Capitals fans broke out with chants of “OVIE! OVIE! OVIE!” ringing loud and clear.
“Yeah, it’s pretty cool,” said Ovechkin, who continues his pursuit of Wayne Gretzky for the all-time lead in goals scored and now has 780. “We have lots of fans all over the place and they came to see the game and they cheered for us so thanks (to) them.”
Ovechkin, 36, continued his ascension up the NHL’s all-time scoring charts. Goal No. 780 put him 21 shy of Gordie Howe’s 801 for second all-time, while Gretzky has the record of 894.
Ovechkin might’ve had a hat trick had linemate Evgeny Kuznetsov not interfered with a shot that made it 1-0 early in the game. Ovechkin blasted a shot from the point and it trickled under Vegas starter Robin Lehner. Kuznetsov was there to tap it home, though it would have gone in the net anyway.
Ovechkin got his first goal of the night against backup goalie Logan Thompson, who replaced Lehner, when he one-timed Kuznetsov’s cross-ice pass and beat Vegas’ rookie netminder to give Washington a 2-1 lead 2:57 into the second period.
In the third period, Thompson didn’t resemble a rookie when he forced Ovechkin to mishandle the puck on a breakaway attempt and later used a windmill save to stop the NHL’s all-time third-leading goal scorer.
Nevertheless, Ovechkin got his 50th of the season and career No. 780 when his blast from the right side beat Thompson and tied the game at 3 with 6:24 left.
“How good is Ovechkin? It’s unbelievable,” said Vegas coach Peter DeBoer. “Two tonight and he could’ve had another two. He looks like he’s 25 years old out there. He’s so dangerous. And as soon as they got behind by one, he started really looking for those openings behind us. And he found it a couple of times.
“They’re a tough team to defend, obviously because of him.”