The 2022-23 season was a failure for the Washington Capitals but there was one moment this season that had them on top of the National Hockey League world and the attention of fans across the globe. That came on Dec. 23rd when the they hosted the Winnipeg Jets.
Alex Ovechkin would score goals 801 and 802 to tie and pass Gordie Howe for second place all time in the NHL’s all time goal scoring list. Now only Wayne Gretzky is in his sights and as of the end of this season the great eight needs 73 to pass the great one.
As Ovechkin sat on his locker room stall to address the media with his sons Sergei and Ilya in his lap, he reflected on the significance of the moment:
"“It’s a historic moment. Who knows who is going to score 800 goals next time? I hope someone and I’m lucky enough to be able to stay healthy and be able to score so many goals. I want to say, first of all, thanks to all my teammates who I play [with], coaches for the trust, for the opportunity too to be able to be out there in different situations. Without them, I would never reach those milestones and reach those numbers.”"
Ovechkin tied Howe at 18:22 of the first period taking a drop pass from Dylan Strome on the rush and unleashing a register from the top of the right face off circle beating goalie David Rittich through the pads. Then Ovechkin passed Howe with an empty netter with a minute remaining in the game.
Gretzky finished his storied career with 894 goals. Ovechkin finished the 2022-23 season by brining up his goal total to 822. Number 99 finally hung up his skates after the 1998-99 season.
Of course Ovechkin wasn’t thinking about Gretzky’s record that night. He was just enjoying the moment, “Step by step, guys. Still a long way. Right now, it’s time to spend time with the family, just enjoy this moment.”