Alex Ovechkin scored two goals to pass Gordie Howe on the NHL’s goalscoring list

Alex Ovechkin had barely looked into the empty net as he smashed the ball into it and unleashed a wild celebration with his teammates and the Washington Capitals fans.

With a no-look netting goal, Ovechkin made more history and moved one step closer to breaking one of hockey’s most prolific records.

Ovechkin scored 801 and 802 goals Friday night to move into second place on the NHL career list. After beating Winnipeg Jets goaltender David Rittich in Gordie Howe’s first period, Ovechkin reluctantly scored from inside the blue line with a minute left to pass for “Mr Hockey”.

Only Wayne Gretzky with 894 has scored more, and Ovechkin now has 93 goals from breaking a record that had long seemed out of reach.

“Step by step, guys,” Ovechkin said after standing with sons Sergei and Ilya and the prominent pumpkins. “There is still a long way to go.”

While it will take at least two more years to see if Ovechkin can challenge Gretzky, getting past Howe takes a lot of celebration. Fans chanted, “Ovi! Ovi! Ovi!” Throughout Washington’s 4-1 win, he never got louder after he shot an empty net.

His teammates did the same in the locker room during a closed celebration, following the Jets players as they lined up to shake hands with Ovechkin at center ice.

“I think it’s just about showing respect, and it’s history for them as well,” Ovechkin said. “The game is the game, but once the whistle blows, it’s all about hockey. We respect each other.”

Ovechkin hit the post with his first shot into an empty net and made another effort by giving the puck to compatriot Evgeny Kuznetsov – and getting it back again. Even if he didn’t want to make history that way, the longtime Washington captain would have done whatever it takes to get his team’s fourth straight win.

“It’s the kind of situation that if you have a chance to take it, you take it,” Ovechkin said. “I give it to Cozy and he’s like, I don’t want to take it.” But after that, it became special.”

His teammates jumped off the bench in celebration and the arena’s goal counter flipped to 802. This was followed by a video tribute from Mark Eben Howe.

Representing his father, who died in 2016, Mark Howe said: “On behalf of Gordie Howe, the man who just passed away, and on behalf of my mother Colin and the entire Howe family, we just want to congratulate you on this amazing achievement.” At eighty-eight years old. “It was a pleasure to watch.”

Ovechkin had the hockey community watch as he hounded Howe for more than a week after scoring a hat-trick to become the third player to score 800 goals. He suffered a four-game drought before breaking through on Friday.

“After hat-tricks to get 800, it took a while to get 801 and 802,” said center Dylan Strom, who assisted Ovechkin’s first goal of the game. “Seeing the puck go in was just a relief, I’m sure, for everyone.”

Ovechkin after the equalizer with Howe didn’t seem content to stop at 801. He had a breakaway early in the second half and was dismissed by Rittich this time – the 166th different keeper he scored – and had a few more chances as the match progressed.

With the Capitals taking a late 3-1 lead and Ritesh dropping to get an extra forward, fans cheered Ovechkin for getting to the ice. He and coach Peter Laviolette discussed not forcing the situation, but when it was Ovechkin’s turn, he didn’t miss his chance.

“There’s something good about what he does offensively when the goalkeeper is out of goal, too,” said Laviolette. “We haven’t changed anything and it’s a very special moment, a very special night.”

It made it even more special for Ovechkin to attend Nastya’s wife and children. Minutes after 4-year-old Sergei and 2-year-old Ilya sat on their knees in the locker room, Ovechkin also smiled, knowing that his parents were watching from their home in Moscow.

“Very emotional,” Ovechkin said. “Doing it with the home crowd, it’s special. They gave me their full support, and it’s so big. It’s a historic moment. It’s good to be in this class of players. It’s really amazing.”

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