WASHINGTON, D.C. — Alex Ovechkin leans back in his chair, sporting stitches from a puck to the face. He’s calm and collected, humble as he discusses yet another historic performance in the Washington Capitals’ 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers.
He called the puck to the face a “wake-up call,” one that fueled him to his historic 28th career hat trick. He is now two power-play goals away from passing Dave Andreychuk for the most PPGs in NHL history. His 1,356 points are now the 26th most in league history, and his 28 hatties are tied with Bobby Hull and Marcel Dionne for the sixth-most all-time.
“If I have a chance to shoot it, I shoot. If I have a chance to pass, I pass. Simple game, you know?” he said with a laugh.
Not only is he continuing his path toward Wayne Gretzky’s record (he is now 19 goals away from passing Jaromir Jagr for third on the NHL’s all-time goals list), but he is climbing up the NHL leaderboard to start the season. He sits second in goals with 18, just two behind Leon Draisaitl’s 20. Plus, his 36 assists tie him with Connor McDavid for second in the league. He also has had three three-point showings in his last four games.
“It just get normal for us, you know?” Kuznetsov said of the Capitals captain’s historic showings.
The 36-year-old continues to defy expectations and stay red-hot with 36 points through 21 games to open the campaign. His performance has helped Washington to the top of the NHL standings, as they sit tied with Carolina and Florida (31 points each) for first in points.
Over the summer, though, there was a different conversation surrounding the Great 8. After signing a five-year extension, one where he must average 33 goals per year to pass No. 99, some critics didn’t think Ovi would be able to keep up with the speed of the league.
So far, he’s proving them wrong; not that he was even listening to them in the first place.
“The answer, it’s… I didn’t pay attention to all those bull**** talk,” Ovechkin said. “You know, it’s good for them. Good for me. Whatever.”
In regard to keeping up with the pace of the league, Ovechkin stayed humble.
“I try to do my job,” Ovechkin said Wednesday. “I think how I said our line play well and if we play like that everybody going to get points.”
Head coach Peter Laviolette added that it doesn’t take much for Ovechkin to get rolling. And ultimately, his “excellent” play starts with his strong work ethic.
“He’s a pretty motivated guy i dont know if it’s one thing that he looks at that and that’s what gets him going. I mean he comes to the rink, he wants to play and he wants to be a contributor,” Laviolette said. “Like I said, he’s been on point before he got here. His summer was on point, his training camp was and the start to the season was.”