Tuesday night at Capital One Arena had it all. A first career goal for rookie winger Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, a comeback shootout victory for the Capitals and yet another huge milestone for Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who scored career goal #767, passing Jaromir Jagr for third place on the league’s all time goals list.
“I think everybody wants me to score that goal. Everybody involved with this milestone. I would say I’m very happy and thankful to be on this team for such a long time, especially with those guys,” said Ovechkin following the game.
“I’m happy being the first European player all of time on goals, Russian-born player. It’s pretty cool. Pass all those names, legends — it’s history. It’s gonna be forever. Hope somebody gonna break my record and we will see.”
Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette called the achievement “colossal” and added that the timing and importance of the goal within the game was also huge.
“It was awesome. It was a big goal at the time. They’re all big. But that was a big one at the time. A meaningful goal. And then to comeback and put a win on the end of it, which makes it even a better night, where you get a chance to enjoy it, take a second, not that we wouldn’t have. It’s just a good ending to a good night,” said Laviolette.
”That’s a colossal milestone. The league’s been running for a long time. There’s been a lot of players that have come through it. To move into third all time and pass a great player like Jaromir Jagr, I had a chance to coach him, what a player he was, and to pass him and continue to move up the list is pretty special. Special for Ovi, for his family, for the guys in the room, especially the ones that have been here with him for a long time. For the fan base that has been here supporting him. What a great night. A special night,” added Laviolette.
The magnitude of the situation was not lost on linemate and fellow countryman Evgeny Kuznetsov, who admitted he and Ovechkin never really discuss milestones. But he hopes there will be a time when the two can sit back and reminisce.
”For now, he just friend, teammate,” Kuznetsov said. “He’s so close to us, and we never even talk about (how he) accomplished all those milestones. I’m pretty sure one day when I’m going to retire, I hope he’s going to be still friends with me, we’re going to sit somewhere and think about and remember some of those milestones.”
The goal was scored against the Islanders and Ovechkin’s former coach Barry Trotz, who also commented on the milestone following the game.
“The one thing that I’ve learned about Ovi over my time is that when you doubt Ovi or you say he can’t do it, he digs in,” Trotz said after the game. “He just digs in and is determined on that. And I think over time he’s learned to train probably a little different. It’s pretty amazing.”
The only downside to the evening for Ovechkin was the fact that his family couldn’t be in attendance to witness firsthand the historic occasion.
“Obviously it’s always fun when you get a milestone and you get a win. Obviously, it sucks when my kids didn’t see it, my wife didn’t see it, my parents, but they’re watching at home,” Ovechkin said. “They’re happy, and that’s the most important thing.”
Now Ovechkin sets his sights on Gordie Howe (801) and Wayne Gretzky (894) who are next up on the all times goals list.
“You never know what’s going to happen in the future,” Ovechkin said. “You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I’m happy I did it and we did it as a team. Now it’s just a period of time, and if I can do it, I will.”
By Jon Sorensen