Capitals’ Ovechkin passes Howe for 2nd on all-time NHL goals list in win over Jets

Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin scored twice in a 4-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night in Washington to move past Detroit Red Wings legend Gordie Howe for second on the all-time NHL regular season goals list.

The 37-year-old potted past Jets goaltender David Rittich in the first period for the 801st marker of his career, accomplishing the feat in his 1,310th game.

Ovechkin scored goal No. 802 into an empty net with one minute remaining in the third period to clinch Washington’s (19-13-4) fourth straight victory.

WATCH | Ovechkin scores goal No. 802:

Ovechkin leads Capitals to win over Jets, passes Gordie Howe with 802nd career NHL goal

7 hours ago

Duration 3:32

Alex Ovechkin scored his 801st and 802nd goals passing Gordie Howe for second on the NHL career list as Washington beat Winnipeg 4-1.

“It’s nice to get it done at home, in front of our house, family, our friends — obviously fans,” Ovechkin said after the game. “It’s a big thing.”

The Russian had gone four games without scoring after reaching the 800-goal plateau with a hat trick on Dec. 13 against Chicago.

After passing Ray Bourque for the most shots on goal in NHL history on Thursday night in a 3-2 overtime win over the Ottawa Senators without any finding the back of the net, one of Ovechkin’s seven shots on Friday was able to find its way through Rittich’s five-hole to tie Howe.

WATCH | Ovechkin ties Howe:

Alex Ovechkin ties Gordie Howe with 801st career NHL goal

10 hours ago

Duration 0:53

Alex Ovechkin’s first period goal against Winnipeg tied Gordie Howe for second all-time in NHL goal scoring at 801.

“After the hat trick to get 800, it took a little while to get 801 and 802,” said Capitals centre Dylan Strome, who assisted Ovechkin’s first goal of the game. “To see the puck go in was just relief, I’m sure, from everyone.”

While Ovechkin didn’t score one of his patented one-timers on the power-play — where he leads all players with 292 goals — he continued to chip away at the all-time even-strength goals leaderboard.

The winger currently places fourth with 505, trailing Wayne Gretzky (616), Howe (566) and Jaromir Jagr (538).

“You know he’s going to score goals,” Jets head coach Rick Bowness said. “Shows you his perseverance, his character, his work ethic. Good for him. Really, congratulations. He deserves that.”

After the game ended, Jets players stuck around to shake Ovechkin’s hand in a show of respect.

“He’s done so much for this league,” Winnipeg forward Adam Lowry said. “He’s a great personality and it’s just a sign of respect to really let him know we appreciate all he’s done for the league, all he’s done for us as players. The milestone, it’s an incredible accomplishment.”

Ovechkin eyes Gretzky

The late Howe was the NHL’s first 800-goal member, reaching the milestone at 52-years-old with the Hartford Whalers in 1980 after spending six seasons in the World Hockey Association.

The hall-of-fame forward scored 786 of his 801 goals in 25 seasons with the Red Wings.

Gordie’s son Mark Howe congratulated Ovechkin via a video tribute following the game.

“On behalf of Gordie Howe, the guy you just passed, and from [my] mother Colleen and the entire Howe family, we just want to congratulate [you on] a fantastic achievement,” Howe said representing his father, who died in 2016 at age 88. “You’ve been a pleasure to watch.”

Ovechkin now sits 92 goals behind Gretzky for first all-time — the same total the legendary Edmonton Oiler hit in his record-breaking season in 1981-82.

Gretzky moved past Howe in 1994 as a member of the Los Angeles Kings with his 802nd goal, finishing with 894 goals in his 20-year career.

“Step by step, guys,” Ovechkin said of Gretzky’s record. “Still a long way.”

Ovechkin added an assist on Sonny Milano’s eventual game-winning goal in the middle frame, with Nic Dowd adding insurance for Washington in the third period.

Kevin Stenlund broke Capitals goalie Charlie Lindgren’s shutout bid midway through the third period, but Winnipeg (21-12-1) couldn’t muster any more offence in its second straight defeat.

Lindgren finished with 25 saves while Rittich stopped 23 pucks.

Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey had his 11-game point streak snapped in the loss.