ARLINGTON, V.A. — Completely surrounded by cameras and under the microscope while carrying the pressure of breaking all-time records and matching legends in the modern era, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin stays cool and collected.
After netting a hat trick to hit 800 career goals back on Tuesday against the Chicago Blackhawks, Ovechkin needs just one more goal to tie Gordie Howe for second on the NHL's all-time goals list and one more to pass him entirely. And as he goes into Thursday's game at home against the Dallas Stars on the verge of more milestones, Ovechkin is excited to see what comes next, but he also refuses to get ahead of himself.
"Let's not jump too far," he said with a nervous laugh.
Ovechkin needs two more goals to pass Howe and 95 more to break the NHL's all-time goals record. That journey starts back up again on Thursday against Dallas at home.
"You never know what's going to happen, right?" Ovechkin asked. "I just have to go out there and play the game as hard as I can. And if this happens, it's great, if not, we're going to work and try to make it happen."
After a recent surge, the 37-year-old is on pace for 53 goals this season, which would give him the most 50-goal seasons in NHL history. And though he likes to remain composed, each milestone holds a lot of significance for the Russian, who also shares that with his wife and two sons, Sergei and Ilya.
"Every milestone, it's a special moment, I think, for the whole organization, for me and obviously, for my family," Ovechkin said, adding, "I'm proud not for myself, but I'm proud for the organization, for the fans who have been with us all those years, ups and downs.
"My son asked me today, 'Dad, how did you score three goals against Chicago?' This my job," he said.
Numbers aside, Ovechkin has already set himself apart as arguably the greatest goal-scorer of all time. His shot is "world-class," as head coach Peter Laviolette put it, and he used his shot, speed, vision and physicality to remain consistent over the course of his career. He has also maintained the same drive that inspires his teammates and the hockey world as a whole.
“I think once he’s gonna be No. 1, he can have a sense of relief," Anthony Mantha said. "Till then, he’s on the hunt and that’s what we love about him.”
He doesn't like to get ahead of himself, but he does feel that there are still ways to go.
That being said, he's sticking with the same approach he's always had: day by day.
"We're still not done," Ovechkin said. "We just move forward."