Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin passes Gordie Howe for 2nd goal ever

Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin overtook Gordie Howe for second all-time in the NHL with 802 goals and scored twice against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night.

Ovechkin equalized Howe with a goal at 1:38 of the first period and then overtook him with a minute remaining in the third period with an empty net, giving him 22 goals in the season.

Ovechkin, 37, trails Wayne Gretzky with the most goals in NHL history. Gretzky scored 894 goals in 1,487 games.

“You never thought it was going to happen when you got into the league, that you were going to break any Gordie Howe or Wayne Gretzky record,” Ovechkin said. “The whole situation that’s happening right now is a miracle.”

Ovechkin’s empty goal came with his back to the Winnipeg net. He initially passed the puck for teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov to take a shot at goal, but Kuznetsov fed the puck back to Ovechkin. The Capitals captain flicked the puck into the abandoned net between the Jets defenders to give the Capitals a 4-1 win.

“I would feel bad if I scored there,” said Kuznetsov. “Half the world would probably be so mad at me.”

The game was interrupted when a congratulatory message from Mark Howe, Gordie’s son, was played on the jumbotron. Ovechkin spun on the ice and tapped his heart with his glove while Jets and Capitals players congratulated their sticks.

Ovechkin scored his first goal on a drop pass from center Dylan Strome when he fired a shot past Jets goalie David Rittich for the historic goal to tie against Mr. Hockey.

The Capitals fans chanted Ovechkin’s name and gave him a standing ovation as the goal tally rolled over to 801 in the arena.

“It’s nice to get it done at home in front of our house, family and friends. It’s a great feeling,” he said. “It’s an incredible feeling. We just have to keep going and see what happens.”

The entire Winnipeg team stopped by after the game for a post-game handshake with Ovechkin.

“Of course you don’t want it to go against your team. But he is generational. [Sidney] Crosby and how special it was to see them play,” said Jets forward Adam Lowry. “It sucks to lose, but he’s going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. He’s done so much to make the game grow.”

Ovechkin reached in his 1,305. Career game hit the 800 goal mark, second least needed to reach 800. Gretzky required 1,116 games; Howe scored his 800th goal in his 1,748 at the age of 51. career game.

Ovechkin has scored at least 24 goals in every season of his NHL career and is one of three players to have scored 20 or more goals in at least 18 straight seasons.

The Capitals star eclipsed a Howe record earlier this season. With his 787th goal, Ovechkin overtook Howe for most goals scored with a team. Howe scored 786 goals with the Detroit Red Wings and 15 more with the Hartford Whalers.

Mark Howe, a defender for the Hockey Hall of Fame, told ESPN earlier this year that he expects Ovechkin to surpass not only his father’s career totals but Gretzky’s as well.

“I’ve seen a lot of scorers shoot the puck into the net like no other, but after a while the puck starts hitting the ridge instead of the corner of the net. I haven’t seen that with Ovi,” he said.

On Thursday night in Ottawa, Ovechkin set an NHL record for most shots on goal in his career, surpassing the previous mark of 6,209 shots on goal by Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque in his NHL career of 1,612 games. It was Ovechkin’s 1,309. career game. The NHL began tracking shots on goal in the 1959–60 season. Ovechkin and Bourque are the only two NHL players to have 6,000 shots on goal in their careers.

Ovechkin signed a five-year, $47 million extension in July 2021 that will keep him in Washington until 2026.

“I’m glad it happened at our house. Our fans deserve to be a part of it,” said Kuznetsov. “That’s a lot of goals. And he still wants to score goals. It’s great to be a part of that.”

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