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Ovechkin Reflects On Passing Jagr, Becoming No. 1 European Scorer: ‘It’s History’



Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin couldn’t contain his excitement as he saw his one-timer off a clean face-off rocket past Semyon Varlamov for goal No. 767 before skating to center ice into the arms of his entire team. And when discussing his milestone postgame after a 4-3 shootout victory on home ice over the New York Islanders, he was still wearing his signature missing-tooth smile.

The late third-period go-ahead goal not only gave him sole possession of third on the NHL’s all-time goals list, but he is now the highest-scoring European player of all time.

“Obviously I’m happy being the first European play all of time on goals, Russian-born player, it’s pretty cool,” Ovechkin noted. “Pass all those names, legends — it’s history. It’s gonna be forever. Hope somebody gonna break my record, and we will see.”

The 36-year-old is now up to 37 goals and 72 points on the season. He has five goals in his last six outings and felt relief finally hitting yet another milestone after having several chances to reach it on the road in Canada a week earlier. He is now 35 goals away from passing Gordie Howe for second, and 128 red lights away from breaking Wayne Gretzky’s once-proclaimed unbreakable all-time goals record.

While Ovechkin’s happy to be moving up the list, he’s not ready to slow down.

“It is [crazy], but I’m still playing. You never know what’s going to happen in the future. You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I’m happy I did it, and we did it as a team. Now it’s just a period of time. And if I can do it, I will. If something happen, I’m happy.”

READ MORE ON WHN: Ovechkin Nets No. 767, Bench Clears For Group Hug At Center Ice

Ovechkin also discussed the celebration, noting that getting to celebrate with all of his teammates was a moment he’ll cherish. The bench cleared and poured out onto the ice to mob the Great 8 for hitting the historic number. Ovechkin, who has captained the Capitals for 12 years now, credited his teammates for his success.

“I think everybody wants me to score that goal. It’s not about who was on the line, it’s all our team,” Ovechkin said. “We play together. It doesn’t matter who’s on the ice, everybody involved with this milestone. I would say I’m very happy and thankful to be on this team for such a long time, especially with those guys.”

Ovi also said getting the milestone and victory on home ice meant a lot, though he wished his family was there to see it in person. He also reflected on playing amid struggles and criticism over the last couple of weeks but said that playing hockey has been helpful.

“Obviously, it’s always fun when you get a milestone, and you get a win,” Ovechkin said. “Obviously, it sucks when my kids didn’t see it, my wife didn’t see it, my parents, but they’re watching at home. They’re happy, and that’s the most important thing.

“It’s been tough, but we’re athletes and we just have to do your job and focus in on the thing, what we’re doing best. We just play hockey and enjoy our moment.”

READ MORE ON WHN: Wilson Discusses Ovechkin’s ‘Contagious’ Energy, Leadership

When it comes to passing Jagr, Ovechkin said it was “special” to pass a player that also made such an impact on the game, and continues to do so overseas. Jagr also joked in a tribute video for Ovi breaking his record that he may come back, so Ovechkin should keep scoring.

“If he didn’t go back to the KHL, I think we would be two or maybe No. 1. But it is what it is,” Ovechkin said. “Now I’m happy and being No. 1 European player, Russian player, it’s pretty cool.”

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