By Steve Silverman
With just about the right amount of fanfare, Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals reached a career milestone Monday when he potted a couple of goals in Washington’s 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets.
The goals were Nos. 599 and 600, and if you think that puts him far ahead of any of his peers, you would be correct. Ovechkin leads Patrick Marleau of the Toronto Maple Leafs (still looks strange after playing with the San Jose Sharks from 1998 through 2017) by 71 goals.
Rick Nash of the Boston Bruins is third with 437 goals, while Ovechkin’s primary rival Sidney Crosby has 405 goals, as does Marian Gaborik, recently traded to the Ottawa Senators.
It’s a brilliant stat for a brilliant player, and he became the fourth player to reach the 600-goal mark in less than 1,000 games. Ovechkin got there in 990 games, while Wayne Gretzky made it in 718, Mario Lemieux did it in 719 and Brett Hull achieved the feat in 900 games.
“Pretty amazing feeling, pretty cool feeling,” Ovechkin said, whose wife flew in from Moscow as he approached the milestone. “She said, ‘I have a feeling you’re gonna score 600 tonight.’”
As far as the all-time list is concerned, Ovechkin is the 20th player in league history to reach 600 goals. Jarome Iginla and Joe Sakic both have 625 and are tied for 15th so Ovechkin could pass them by about New Year’s Eve next season.
There is no doubt about his individual talent and ability to score like few others who have played the game but, Ovechkin skates with an albatross around his neck. He has never been past the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and until he gets to the Stanley Cup Final and then lifts the Cup, he will always lose in comparison to Crosby and some of the other all-time great players.
While the Capitals’ postseason shortcomings are not all his fault, Ovechkin must take some of the blame. His playoff numbers are fine – 46 goals and 44 assists in 97 postseason games – but he just doesn’t come up with the big play when his team’s season is on the line.
He is a great individual player. However, those that want to place him with the all-time greats – where Crosby is now – will have to wait until The Great Eight does something simple in June of the next few years.
All he has to do is lift a very special cup over his head.
Bruins pull off an amazing comeback
Teams that were down by two goals after two periods have not fared well this season. Going into Tuesday night’s action, teams in that position were 5-227-12.
The Boston Bruins were trailing Carolina 3-1 after 40 minutes, and before the 41st minute was completed, they were down 4-1 after giving up a short-handed goal.
And then it happened. Rookie defenseman Matt Grzelcyk got the comeback started with a whistling wrist shot that zipped past Cam Ward’s glove at the 10:04 mark. That goal lit a fuse for the Bruins, and David Pastrnak whistled home his own wrister 56 seconds later.
Carolina’s lead evaporated 21 seconds after that when Danton Heinen finished off a 2-on-1 with David Krejci and banged in the tying goal at 11:21.
As the Hurricanes tried to catch their breath, they suffered another blow when defenseman Justin Faulk lifted a backhand clearing effort over the glass and was sent to the penalty box for delay of game. Pastrnak broke the tie with a one-timer from the left face-off circle at the 16:30 mark and then he put the nail in the coffin with an empty-netter with 1:34 remaining.
Five goals within 8:22 turned a 4-1 deficit into a 6-4 victory
“When we have that life, we’re dangerous,” said Brad Marchand, who had a goal and two assists against Carolina. “But we can’t rely on that every night either. We didn’t have a good game and we can’t be satisfied with that.”
Of the six wins by teams trailing by two goals after 40 minutes, the Bruins have two of them. They trailed Edmonton 2-0 in late February but rallied for the 3-2 win on goals by Grzelcyk, Krejci and Noel Acciari.
This time, the Bruins accomplished the feat without Patrice Bergeron and Charlie McAvoy. As Tuesday night’s game progressed, they lost Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug and Jake DeBrusk to undisclosed injuries.
The Bruins continue to throw off signals that this may be their year, and nothing that happened Tuesday night diminishes that prospect.
Shaw suffers insult and injury
Montreal Canadiens forward Andrew Shaw tried to deliver a devastating check to Dallas Stars defenseman Greg Pateryn at the Bell Center Tuesday night.
Charging at full speed, he delivered a shot very close to Pateryn’s head, and both men went down. However, it was Shaw who was knocked out by the collision.
Pateryn didn’t realize that Shaw was out at first, and he threw a couple of jabs at the pesky forward before he got up. Pateryn explained the situation.
“He was knocked out as soon as he hit me. He knocked himself out when he hit me, and I didn’t realize he was knocked out until he was on the ice and his eyes were in the back of his head. So a play like that, that’s what happens sometimes.”
While Canadiens Karl Alzner and Jonathan Drouin defended Shaw’s actions, it was a cheap shot. Shaw took a run at Pateryn and he paid a price for it.
That was how Shaw played when he was with the Blackhawks, and he continues to go at it in the same manner in Montreal.
Shaw has already suffered two concussions, and this may be a third. Shaw and the Canadiens must take a hard look at the way he plays or he could suffer an injury that shortens his career.