Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin is chasing down the 500th goal of his career, and he came within one of the 500-goal plateau with an absolutely spectacular overtime winner Saturday afternoon just moments after a game-saving play by Washington blueliner Nate Schmidt.
In the extra frame of the matinee between the Capitals and Rangers, New York had won an offensive zone faceoff and came up with an incredible chance in front of Washington netminder Braden Holtby. Rangers winger Rick Nash spun and fired a shot on goal that ended up on the stick of center Derek Stepan. With Holtby sliding to his right, Stepan stepped to the left to find an opening behind the goaltender and slid the puck towards the empty net when Schmidt reached in to somehow knock the puck out of harm’s way.
Schmidt’s rejection of Stepan’s attempt left the puck sitting in front of the net, and Ovechkin picked it up, went end-to-end and scored yet another highlight-reel goal:
Ovechkin had scored the 498th goal of his career on the power play earlier in the contest following an atrocious turnover by the Rangers, but there was nothing easy about the way he notched No. 499. Ovechkin mustered five shots on goal in the game.
The Capitals are heading back to Washington for games Sunday against the Ottawa Senators and Thursday against the Vancouver Canucks. With the way Ovechkin has been scoring over his past several outings, the safe bet would be he’ll score goal 500 in front of a home crowd at Verizon Center. In his past seven games, Ovechkin has seven goals and his two tallies Saturday put him on pace for 49 this season.
According to the NHL Network, should Ovechkin score his 500th goal in either of his next two games, he’ll surpass Phil Esposito as the fifth fastest player to record 500 goals in NHL history. Ovechkin currently sits sixth all-time in goals per game at .622 per outing.