After reaching the 800-goal plateau this week, Alex Ovechkin could hit another huge milestone when the Washington Capitals host the Dallas Stars on Thursday.
During the Capitals’ 7-3 rout of the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, Ovechkin recorded a hat trick to move from 797 career goals to the 800 mark in one night. The three-time Hart Trophy recipient is the third player in NHL history to record at least 800 career goals after Wayne Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801).
Ovechkin is poised to tie or pass Howe on Thursday.
“It’s the best company you ever can imagine since you start playing hockey to be connected to Gordie,” Ovechkin said. “Eight hundred. … Without my teammates, without the organization, the fans, my family, I would never get that number and I would never talk to you right now about those numbers.”
If sharing space with one NHL legend wasn’t enough, Ovechkin is also one assist from tying Bobby Orr for 70th place on the all-time list at 645. Ovechkin’s hat trick was the 29th of his career, breaking a tie for sixth-place all-time with Marcel Dionne and Bobby Hull.
Ovechkin’s march through the record books is only one highlight of the Capitals’ best run this season. Washington is on a five-game winning streak and has emerged in style from a stretch in which it played eight of nine games on the road.
Of the Capitals’ next 12 games, nine are on home ice, with the Stars’ visit kicking off a three-game homestand. They do not play consecutive road contests in that 12-game stretch.
Dallas also is in good form, moving into first place in the Central Division after it went 3-1-0 over the last four games. In defeat, the Stars allowed a last-minute goal in a 2-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday, but they rebounded with a 4-1 victory one day later against the New Jersey Devils.
Head coach Pete DeBoer considered Tuesday’s game arguably the Stars’ best win of the season.
“Back-to-back with how we lost last game, I was really worried about mentally where we were at,” DeBoer said. “I thought the guys were outstanding. That’s a testament to our leadership.”
Roope Hintz scored with three seconds remaining in the second period with a late strike that ended up being the game winner. Hintz has 10 points (five goals, five assists) in his last seven games.
Backup goalie Scott Wedgewood faced New Jersey, so regular starter Jake Oettinger is expected in the Stars’ net Thursday. Oettinger stopped all 27 shots faced when Dallas last faced Washington, a 2-0 shutout win for the Stars on Oct. 27.
Goalie Charlie Lindgren has started every game of the Capitals’ win streak, posting a 1.81 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage along with the 5-0-0 record. With Darcy Kuemper still sidelined by injury, Washington is expected to ride Lindgren’s hot hand.
The Capitals have scored a power-play goal in seven consecutive games, going 7-for-22 with the extra attacker during the streak. The Stars’ power-play unit has been slumping, with only one goal in 20 chances over the last six games.
Washington forward Evgeny Kuznetsov has seven points (one goal, six assists) during a six-game points streak.
–Field Level Media