Ovechkin moves into 2nd on NHL goals list, Caps beat Jets
WASHINGTON (AP) — Alex Ovechkin scored his 801st and 802nd goals to pass Gordie Howe for second on the NHL career list, and the Washington Capitals beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-1 Friday night to extend their winning streak to four.
Ovechkin scored into an empty net with a minute left in the third period to set off a wild celebration by teammates and a standing ovation from the crowd, which chanted “Ovi! Ovi!” Washington’s longtime captain scored in the first period to match Howe’s mark.
He’s now 92 back of tying Wayne Gretzky’s record.
“It’s nice to get it done at home, in front of our house, family, our friends — obviously fans,” Ovechkin said. “It’s a big thing.”
With Ovechkin now in sole possession of second place, the Capitals go into the break in a playoff spot and rolling but also hurting after losing another key player to injury.
Top defenseman John Carlson took a puck to the right side of his face on a shot from former teammate Brenden Dillon during the second period and skated off quickly, leaving a pool of blood on the ice. He did not return, and coach Peter Laviolette said Carlson was taken to a hospital for precautionary evaluation.
“Seeing Johnny go down in the third, early there, I think that was really tough for us all to see just because he’s certainly one of our leaders and someone we all look up to,” goaltender Charlie Lindgren said. “It’s never fun to see a guy go down like that. It was not good to see.”
Washington recently lost energetic forward T.J. Oshie to an upper-body injury and has been without center Nicklas Backstrom and winger Tom Wilson all season.
But Ovechkin and Co. have found a groove, winning nine of their last 10 games. This victory also included goals by Sonny Milano and Nic Dowd and 25 saves from Lindgren.
Ovechkin had an assist on Milano’s fifth goal of the season. It’s his 409th career multipoint game, passing Paul Coffey for 12th-most in NHL history.
Jets players all shook Ovechkin’s hand after the final horn to congratulate him. Coach Rick Bowness was in attendance for another memorable moment nearly 17 years after being behind the Phoenix Coyotes bench when Ovechkin scored arguably his best goal after falling on his back.
“You know he’s going to score goals,” Bowness said. “Shows you his perseverance, his character, his work ethic. Good for him. Really, congratulations. He deserves that.”
Winnipeg’s David Rittich became the 166th goaltender Ovechkin has scored on, and he finished with 23 saves in a game heavily tilted toward his end of the ice. Kevin Stenlund scored midway through the third period, and the Jets lost their second in a row.
Losing three of four did not stop the Jets from wanting to pay tribute to Ovechkin.
“He’s done so much for this league,” 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.”
NOTES: Capitals defenseman Erik Gustafsson extended his point streak to four games. ... The Jets scratched forward Cole Perfetti with an undisclosed injury. Michael Eyssimont took his place in the lineup.
Jets: Host Minnesota on Tuesday in each team’s first game after the Christmas break.
Capitals: Visit the New York Rangers on Tuesday.
Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno
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