Ovechkin is second in goal scoring with 21 goals through 32 games; Pastrnak leads the league with 25 goals in 31 games. Ovechkin has 679 career goals and is six goals shy of passing Teemu Selanne (684) for 11th in NHL history.
“I’m happy for guys who get those results,” Ovechkin said of Pastrnak, whose nickname is Pasta. “The league’s changed. You can’t be always No. 1. At some point, somebody going to get you and you just have to try to do your best thing that you can do.
“It is impressive and it’s nice that somebody did in this type of hockey that teams are playing and goalie style and goalie skill. I think he’s played great hockey this year. Their line is connecting well, [Brad] Marchand, [Patrice] Bergeron and Pasta. He’s a great shooter, a great skater and he’s on the next level this year.”
Wednesday night, the NHL’s top two teams and top two goal scorers will go head-to-head at Capital One Arena. Washington leads the league with 49 points; Boston is second with 46.
Both teams lost to subpar teams on Monday: The Capitals fell to the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Bruins to the Ottawa Senators. The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for Washington, which will face a tough comeback challenge against a strong Bruins team.
In the previous meeting between the two on Nov. 16 in Boston, the Capitals pulled out a 3-2 shootout win. Boston’s lineup is a healthier than it was last month, when Bergeron was out with a lower-body injury. Washington is playing with its full, optimal lineup for only the second time this season.
“They are a tremendous team and a great challenge,” Capitals Coach Todd Reirden said. “Tremendous players and well-coached. Should be a good game.”
Ovechkin always gets up for games such as Wednesday’s, Reirden said, and the goal-scoring race will most likely be in the back of his mind against Pastrnak.
“Four goals for Ovi is nothing,” Pastrnak said. “Obviously he’s an unbelievable goal scorer, and he’s been doing it for a lot of years. We all know what he’s capable of. He’s a big key for their team, so we need to be ready.”
Ovechkin also has praised Pastrnak’s game. In his six years in the NHL, through 351 games, Pastrnak has scored 157 goals. He scored 38 goals last season, 35 in 2017-18 and 34 in 2016-17.
“Obviously Ovi is farther along than Pasta, but Pasta is now being talked about in the same breath so I think it’s good for the fans,” Boston Coach Bruce Cassidy said. “They enjoy seeing two of the top guys go at it. Only Pasta can answer it, but I’m sure he looks at it like a challenge. I don’t know about Ovi, who has always been at the top, but I assume for Pasta, the next night it’s [Nikita] Kucherov, always someone coming down the line.”
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