- The Washington Times
Saturday, February 22, 2020

NEWARK, N.J. — Alex Ovechkin became the eighth player to score 700 goals in an NHL career with a goal Saturday against the New Jersey Devils.

Ovechkin is the second-fastest player to 700 (1,144 games) — trailing only Wayne Gretzky — and he needed just 154 games to go from No. 600 to No. 700, the fastest in history.

One game after scoring No. 699 at home against Montreal, Ovechkin fired a one-timer from the right circle 4:50 into the third period of Saturday’s game, a 3-2 loss to the Devils.

Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nick Jensen earned the assists by shuttling the puck around the back of the net to Ovechkin.

The Capitals cleared their bench to hug Ovechkin at center ice as the Prudential Center arena operations team recognized Ovechkin’s accomplishment on the scoreboard.

At 34, Ovechkin is now just 195 goals away from breaking Gretzky’s all-time record of 894 — something that, with a few more 50-goal seasons, might be feasible for the Russian.

“To me it’s crazy that he’s even getting mentioned with Gretzky in this era of the hockey style that we’re playing,” Capitals right winger Tom Wilson said this month. “He’s a machine. He’s just one of the most motivated guys as far as scoring goals that I’ve ever met.”

Ovechkin started on a heater before the All-Star break last month that continued into early February, scoring 14 times in a span of seven games, including three hat tricks. During that tear, he jumped past Teemu Selanne, Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman and Mark Messier on the all-time list.

But after that, he failed to score a goal for five games — his longest such stretch all season.

Ovechkin is on pace to score 56 goals this season, which would bring him to 714 for his career and push him past Capitals great Mike Gartner for seventh all-time.

The only other players to surpass 700 career goals were Gordie Howe, Jaromir Jagr, Brett Hull, Marcel Dionne and Phil Esposito.

Backstrom, Ovechkin’s linemate and friend since 2006, is one of many who’ve had a front-row seat to his climb up the leaderboard. Backstrom said earlier this month he will be “super excited” for Ovechkin to reach No. 700.

“It’s a nice milestone, and it’s been incredible watching him for this many years and hopefully for more years, too,” Backstrom said. “I think, me personally, I’m just happy for him.”

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