The Capitals captured a fourthconsecutive Southeast Division crown and didn’t even need the 3-2 shootout victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs to do it. But Washington did get the win and two points that put it atop the Eastern Conference standings with 105, two ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers.
You can read more about those accolades and the game that saw the Capitals get back to the principles of their game — get the puck deep, defensive responsibility — that weren’t always apparent in the last few contests in the story for Wednesday’s hard-copy edition.
Not to be overlooked, though, was the earliest milestone in the Capitals’ latest triumph: a booming one-time slap shot by Alex Ovechkin for a power-play goal 11 minutes 28 seconds into the first period that was the 300th goal of the left wing’s career.
At 25 years 200 days, Ovechkin is the sixth-youngest player in NHL history to reach the 300-goal plateau behind only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Dale Hawerchuk, Mike Bossy and Steve Yzerman. Ovechkin is also the seventh quickest to 300 in terms of games played, having reached the milestone in 473. In that category, he is behind Gretzky, Lemieux, Brett Hull, Bossy, Jari Kurri and Teemu Selanne.
“It feels good,” Ovechkin said. “When you score 300 goals in six years it’s a big accomplishment.”
Given the way Ovechkin zipped around the Maple Leafs’ offensive zone throughout the contest it appeared as though he might add to the total. Ovechkin broke three sticks early on in the contest and had several chances turned away by a stellar performance from rookie goaltender James Reimer.
“I have pretty good chances today,” Ovechkin said. “Right in the first minute, I feel pretty good. I had control of the puck, feel good about skating.”
In his last 15 games, Ovechkin has 20 points (seven goals) and after his latest dominant showing the captain was asked if he was ramping it up for the postseason.
“It’s time right now to be ready for the playoffs,” Ovechkin said. “The best time of year is coming — playoffs. You get excited. I think whole team gets excited.”