Crowds seldom give loud ovations to opposing players. Alex Ovechkin isn't just a regular opponent.
Ovechkin scored two goals and moved into eighth place on the NHL's career goals list, leading the Washington Capitals to a 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators on Friday night.
Ovechkin's second-period goal, his 36th of the season and the 694th of his career, tied him with Mark Messier on the goals list. He added an empty-net goal with seconds remaining and moved into the eighth spot.
Ottawa fans gave Ovechkin a hearty cheer, and when he moved into eighth place, responding with a cheer of: “Ovi! Ovi! Ovi!”
"Eight is a good number," the Capitals' captain said with a smile. “I would say it's nice to be in good company. There are a lot of legends up there.”
Ovechkin is 13 goals behind Mike Gartner for seventh on the NHL's career list. His 695 goals have come in 1,135 career games.
Messier congratulated Ovechkin via a statement to the NHL.
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"You have amazed us all with your skill, shot, and grit — a rare combination. But more importantly, you have inspired a generation of girls and boys with your passion to score and play the game," Messier's statement said, in part.
Praise was being heaped on Ovechkin, who had 19 shots, from both dressing rooms.
"You hate seeing it against you, but it's just incredible," said Thomas Chabot. "He's proven he's elite. He's one of the greatest of all time in the NHL to score goals."
Capitals coach Todd Reirdon said Washington is fortunate to have a player like Ovechkin.
"That's how special a player he is," Reirdon said. "We're lucky as coaches and players to see a guy chase an unbelievable record, and he hasn't stopped the last few games.
“He was on, he was sharp, and he was ready to go.”
TJ Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Carl Hagelin also scored for the Capitals.
Ilya Samsonov made 25 stops and won his 11th straight decision for Washington. Marcus Hogberg stopped 27 shots in a losing effort for Ottawa.
Chris Tierney, Chabot and Artem Anisimov scored for the Senators.
Oshie opened the scoring for the Capitals, collecting his 19th goal of the season four minutes into the game. Kuznetsov banged home a loose puck seven minutes later to make it 2-0.
The Senators got on the board after Tierney scored short-handed at 7:15 of the second period, cutting Washington's lead to 2-1. Tierney's 10th goal of the season was the Senators' 12th short-handed goal of the season, which leads the NHL, and their fourth in the last three games.
Ovechkin ripped a shot from the right circle over the blocker of Hogberg at 10:27 of the second period to make it 3-1.
Barely a minute after Ovechkin's first goal of the game the Senators answered, as Chabot unloaded a slap shot from just inside the blue line that pulled Ottawa within one.
After being outshot 16-5 in the first period, the Senators responded with 17 shots in the second, but they couldn't keep up with the Capitals' firepower.
"We showed some resiliency for sure," Ottawa coach DJ Smith said. "We played hard and we didn't lay down. I thought we hung (Hogberg) out to dry in the first, but in saying that, they're a really good team.
“They make plays and there's a reason why they're one of the best teams in the league.”
Just three minutes into the final period, a wrist shot by Hagelin zipped past the glove of Hogberg to make it 4-2. Hagelin's fourth of the season came short-handed.
Anisimov scored on the power play, pulling the Senators to within one just over a minute later, but the late push wasn't enough.