Ovechkin matches Howe for 2nd all-time in goals

    Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.

Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin tied Gordie Howe for second in all-time NHL goals with 801 after scoring in the first period against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night.

It was Ovechkin’s 21st goal of the season, scored with 1:38 left in the period at home. Taking a drop pass by center Dylan Strome, Ovechkin snapped a shot past Jets goalie David Rittich for the historic tally.

Ovechkin trails only Wayne Gretzky for the most goals in NHL history. Gretzky scored 894 goals in 1,487 games.

The Capitals fans chanted Ovechkin’s name and gave the captain a standing ovation as the in-arena goal counter flipped to read 801. Ovechkin waved to the crowd from the bench, as his wife and children celebrated from their seats.

The goal gave Washington a 1-0 lead, the 137th time Ovechkin has scored the first goal in a game, which is an NHL record.

Ovechkin reached the 800-goal mark in his 1,305th career game. It was the second-fewest games required to hit 800 goals; Gretzky needed 1,116 games. Howe scored his 800th goal in his 1,748th career game, at age 51.

Ovechkin has scored at least 24 goals in every season of his NHL career and is one of three players to ever score 20 or more in at least 18 straight seasons.

The Capitals star eclipsed a Howe record earlier this season. With his 787th goal, Ovechkin passed Howe for the most goals scored with one team in NHL history. Howe scored 786 goals with the Detroit Red Wings and 15 more with the Hartford Whalers.

Mark Howe, Gordie’s son and a Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman, told ESPN earlier this year that he expected Ovechkin to not only pass his father’s career totals but those of Gretzky.

“I’ve seen a lot of scorers that put the puck in the net like nobody can, but after a while the puck starts hitting the crest instead of the corner of the net. I haven’t seen that with Ovi yet,” he said.

On Thursday night in Ottawa, Ovechkin set an NHL record for most career shots on goal, passing the previous mark of 6,209 shots set by Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque in his 1,612-game NHL career. It was Ovechkin’s 1,309th career game. The NHL started tracking shots on goal in the 1959-60 season. Ovechkin and Bourque are the only two NHL players to eclipse 6,000 career shots on goal.

Ovechkin signed a five-year, $47-million extension in July 2021 that will keep him in Washington through 2026.

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