WASHINGTON, D.C. — All over Capital One Arena, the words on everybody’s lips were the same…”You think Ovi’s gonna do it tonight?” Alex Ovechkin entered the game sitting on the same 698 career goals that he had after his hat trick last Tuesday night. He was two goals away from reaching 700 on home ice, a feat well within The Great 8’s grasp. 3 of the 7 members of the 700 club (Wayne Gretzky, Marcel Dionne and Former Capital Jaromír Jagr) scored their 700th goal against the Islanders, could Ovi be the 4th?
The night got off to an inauspicious start for the Capitals as Anthony Beauvillier beat Ilya Samsonov at the 3:30 mark of the 1st period. The goal put the Caps in an early 1-0 hole and things got worse from there. At the 6:16 mark of the opening period, Beauvillier struck again, scoring his 2nd goal in 2 minutes and 44 seconds. Usually, if someone is scoring goals that frequently at Capital One Arena, their name is Alex Ovechkin. Unfortunately for the home town, that was not the case this time.
Trailing by two goals in the first period, Washington seemed hellbent on trying to recreate their epic comeback win from January, the last time these two teams met. In that game, Ovechkin scored a hat trick, with two of the goals coming in the Capitals’ 5-goal 3rd period, and tied Steve Yzerman at 692 career goals. The Capitals also won that game 6-4 after trailing 4-1 entering the 3rd.
Alex Ovechkin appeared to scored #699 at the 12:55 mark of the 1st to pull the Caps back within a goal of the Islanders and himself within a goal of 700. The goal was ultimately ruled to have to no ricocheted off Ovi’s skate and the goal was credited to John Carlson. The goal was Carlson’s 15th of the season and the 105th of his career, it was not, however, the 699th of Ovechkin’s career after all.
Unfortunately for Washington, their defense continued to play like they had all year…poorly. The Caps’ deficit was back at 2, 3-1, after Devon Toews scored on a fast break near the end of the 1st period, at the 18:06 mark. Despite both team throwing up 10 shots of goal each, it was Washington that trailed as New York took that 3-1 lead into the locker room at the First Intermission.
The 2nd period started worse than the 1st, with 4th liner Leo Komarov scouring his 2nd goal…of the season…45 seconds into the period. The Capitals trailed 4-1, the same deficit they faced in their comeback victory. If they were truly trying to recreate that game, they were succeeding. Monday night’s deficit got even worse when Jordan Eberle scored at the 10:36 mark of the 2nd period to make it 5-1 New York and chase Samsonov from the game. Enter Braden Holtby.
Lars Eller quelled some of the Islanders’ momentum, scoring his 14th goal of the season at the 11:25 mark of the 2nd. It was down to 5-2 Islanders and the comeback had begun, did Washington have it in them to repeat the feat? TJ Oshie continued the comeback bid with a power play goal at the 16:59 mark of the 2nd and Washington was very much back in the game. The goal was Oshie’s 21st of the season and the Caps’ deficit was down to only 2 again, 5-3. Not ideal, but with the way this Washington team can score in bunches, a victory was still in sight, despite the 5-3 deficit at the Second Intermission.
Despite Washington’s best efforts in the 3rd and many scoring chances, neither team scored in the final period and the Capitals fell by a final of 5-3.
Alex Ovechkin has managed to score milestone goals #500 (vs. Ottawa Senators on Jan. 10, 2016) and #600 (vs. Winnipeg Jets on March 12, 2018) on his home ice at Capital One Arena. If he is going to continue that trend and notch #700 in front of his home crowd, he will have to score no more than one goal on the Capitals’ 3-game road trip out west to Colorado, Arizona and Las Vegas. He won’t have another chance in DC until Washington returns home on February 20 when they hose Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens. The Great 8 is only 196 goals away from tying The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, whose 894 career goals are the most all time. The 34-year old Russian has that number firmly in his sights and his former coach and tonight’s opponent Barry Trotz thinks he’ll get their saying “If I was a betting man, I would bet on Ovi breaking that goal-scoring record. In my mind, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s going to do it.” He also said he believes Ovi is “the greatest goal scorer that’s every played at this point.”
Only time will tell what Ovechkin’s final goal tally will be but for now, he remains at 698. His next chance for goals 699 & 700 will come Thursday night when he and the Caps take on the Avs and former Capitals net minder Philip Grubauer in Colorado.