WASHINGTON — Alexander Ovechkin’s climb up the NHL career goals list took another step in the Washington Capitals’ first game of the year.
With two goals against the New York Rangers on Wednesday, Ovechkin passed Marcel Dionne for fifth on the all-time list.
He scored on a third-period power play for the Capitals’ fourth goal (career goal No. 731) to tie Dionne. The stalemate lasted all of 10 minutes, as Ovechkin provided the final tally – a rare short-handed strike (the fifth of his career and first since the 2008-09 season) for goal No. 732 – past Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev later in the frame to seal the Capitals’ 5-1 victory.
Washington’s captain played it cool after the win, while joking he’s ready for more penalty-kill responsibilities.
“Yeah, just trying to do my job,” Ovechkin said. Asked whether climbing the all-time list adds any motivation, he replied:
“I just enjoy my time (playing).”
Next up for Ovechkin to surpass are Brett Hull (741) and Jaromir Jagr (766). Wayne Gretzky tops the list with 894 goals and has said twice in the last week he hopes Ovechkin, in his 17th season, can play long enough to break his record. Gordie Howe (801 goals) is second, and Ovechkin will (presumably) have to wait another season or two to catch the Detroit Red Wings legend.
Ovechkin wasn’t the lone member of the team with a milestone evening.
Rookie forward Hendrix Lapierre, the team’s first-round pick in 2020, scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game. Coach Peter Laviolette also passed John Tortorella in wins with win No. 674, making him the winningest American-born coach in history.
“It’s not one guy winning,” said Laviolette, who began his 20th season behind a NHL bench on Wednesday. “It’s a team that wins. So I think about that.”
Only in his second year with the Capitals, Laviolette has nevertheless experienced plenty of Ovechkin-centered celebrations already.
“It seems like every night we’re acknowledging him for something or he’s passing somebody by or he’s doing something special,” the coach said. “Tonight’s a real big accomplishment.”
Even more impressive, Laviolette said, is that Ovechkin – a game-time decision due to a lower-body injury that left him day-to-day – not only played, but contributed at scale with his two goals and two assists.
“There (were) lots of question marks,” Laviolette said.
As usual, Ovechkin provided the right answers.
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Alex Ovechkin moves up goals list in Capitals win vs. Rangers