Ovechkin passes Esposito at 718 NHL goals for Capitals


WASHINGTON Alex Ovechkin passed Phil Esposito for sixth on the NHL goals list, with 718, when the Washington Capitals forward scored against the New York Islanders at Capital One Arena on Tuesday.

Ovechkin scored his 12th goal of the season on a power play with 4:36 left in the second period.

The 35-year-old has scored 718 goals in 1,177 regular-season games in 16 seasons with the Capitals, who selected him with the No. 1 pick in the 2004 NHL Draft. Esposito scored 717 goals in 1,282 regular-season games in 18 NHL seasons with the Chicago Black Hawks, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers before retiring in 1981.

“I got to tell you, man, congratulations,” Esposito said in a video played at the arena. “You are a fantastic hockey player, and I don’t know how you score all those goals with the way these guys block shots with the great equipment that they wear. Good luck. Keep it going, but not against the Lightning.”

(Esposito is vice president of corporate relations for Tampa Bay).

Ovechkin has scored in four straight games, including goal No. 717 against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday, and in five of the past six.

Five players have scored more NHL goals: Marcel Dionne (731), Brett Hull (741), Jaromir Jagr (766), Gordie Howe (801) and Wayne Gretzky (894).

“I think if anyone knows where he is in the stats or how many goals he’s behind a player, it’s probably him,” Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom said of Ovechkin. “He keeps hearing about it too. So he’s that kind of player too. When he wants to chase something, he does it right away. That’s how he is as a player and as a goal-scorer.”

With an assist on T.J. Oshie‘s second-period goal, Ovechkin became the second active player to score 1,300 NHL points, joining Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joe Thornton (1,521; 423 goals, 1,098 assists), and the 35th player in history.

Video: NYI@WSH: Ovechkin hits 1,300 points on Oshie’s goal

Ovechkin has scored 23 points (11 assists) in 25 games this season. The Washington captain missed four games while in the NHL COVID-19 protocol from Jan. 20-29.

“He’s such a great shooter,” said Islanders coach Barry Trotz, who coached Ovechkin for four seasons with the Capitals (2014-18). “I termed him probably the greatest goal-scorer of maybe all time because there’s no one like him from a standpoint physically. No one shoots the puck like him. So he’s dangerous every time he’s on the ice.”

Last season, Ovechkin tied David Pastrnak of the Bruins for the NHL lead with 48 goals. Ovechkin has led the NHL a record nine times, including the past three seasons. He is nine goals behind Auston Matthews (21 goals) for the lead this season.

Tweet from @Capitals: And now a message from the great Phil Esposito for Alex Ovechkin on taking over sixth place on the all-time goals list!#ALLCAPS | #Gr8 pic.twitter.com/8NydChJFE8

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