CALGARY — Alex Ovechkin pulled his stick back and fired, but the puck ricocheted off goalie Karri Ramo’s pad. But Ramo never covered the puck, and Ovechkin pounced on it, flicking it again toward the net.
Ovechkin is not stopped often, and rarely stopped on back-to-back chances. From the goal line, he swatted the puck into the net by the far post, giving the Washington Capitals the go-ahead goal Tuesday night while also propelling himself to another milestone.
The Capitals beat the Calgary Flames, 6-2, and Ovechkin’s goal — his fourth in four games — accounted for his 900th point. He’s the first player in franchise history to reach that mark and is the second-fastest active player to reach 900 points by doing so in 764 games played. Jaromir Jagr did it in 681 games.
Ovechkin said he didn’t know he’d hit 900 points in the moment, but he smiled happily with a piece of tape around a puck that listed the accomplishment and the date, the achievement made sweeter by the dominating victory.
“It’s a huge milestone,” Ovechkin said. “I love my teammates. It’s hard to do by yourself in this league.”
Ovechkin’s score highlighted another strong offensive showing by Washington, this time on the team’s first road test. After an early 1-0 deficit, Ovechkin’s goal was the first of a three-goal second period for the Capitals that put them in command. Nicklas Backstrom, playing in his second game after offseason hip surgery, scored two goals. Evgeny Kuznetsov tallied three assists.
Ovechkin came into the game a point shy of 900 and, with his early scoring form, it seemed a given he’d reach that mark in Calgary. He had almost scored less than six minutes into the first period, when he had a breakaway chance, but Ovechkin never got a good handle on the puck. His shot was batted up and back by Ramo.
“It’s absolutely amazing and impressive,” Backstrom said of Ovechkin. “His shot, it’s amazing. He keeps scoring, almost every game, so it’s impressive what he’s done so far, but he’s not done yet.”
The Flames took a 1-0 lead three minutes after Ovechkin’s missed opportunity. Defenseman John Carlson, with a man on him at the right boards, floated a pass intended for Brooks Orpik into the right faceoff circle, but it was intercepted by Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau, who then relayed it to Sean Monahan. From the slot, Monahan wristed the puck through goalie Braden Holtby’s legs exactly nine minutes into the game.
But the Flames (1-5-0) couldn’t build on their lead despite back-to-back power-play opportunities, a testament to Washington’s penalty-kill unit. Defenseman Dmitry Orlov got called for high-sticking, and then less than a minute after the Capitals (4-1-0) killed off that penalty, Taylor Chorney was whistled for holding. But in those four penalty minutes, Calgary got off just one shot on goal, its power-play unit never getting set.
That gave the Capitals momentum. Because first-line winger T.J. Oshie had racked up 1 minute 49 seconds of shorthanded ice time, Coach Barry Trotz sent Andre Burakovsky out for a shift with the top line. Kuznetsov skated until he was directly behind the net. He looked down to sneak a glance behind him, then masterfully dragged the puck back for a reverse pass to Burakovsky, whose snap shot from just in front of the crease tied the game 16:02 into the first period.
Ovechkin’s goal gave the Capitals the lead, and they continued to pour it on. Justin Williams blasted the puck past two Calgary players to Backstrom in the high slot, and Backstrom’s goal gave Washington a two-goal lead 10:56 into the second period.
“If we play the right way, we’re a tough team to play against,” Trotz said.
Forty-one seconds later, Kuznetsov fed Oshie, positioned directly in front of the net. Oshie pounded the puck through Ramo’s legs, putting the Capitals up, 4-1. Jason Chimera added a goal in the third period, a top shelf one-timer, and as extra insurance, Backstrom scored his second goal of the game with less than four minutes left.
It marked the third straight game that Washington has scored at least four goals, its bolstered forward corps, led by Ovechkin, flexing its muscle again in Calgary on Tuesday night.
“He’s one of those rare players you get to work with and you get to see on a nightly basis,” Trotz said. “It’s pretty special. To get 900 points in this league, you’ve got to be pretty darn good. He’s got a lot of points left in him.”