Make it 600 goals and counting for Alex Ovechkin, and give the Washington Capitals two more points for the tough playoff race in the Eastern Conference. Ovechkin scored twice in another historic performance and Evgeny Kuznetsov had the overtime winner as the Capitals returned to first place by beating the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 on Monday night. The 32-year-old Ovechkin scored during a 5-on-3 power play in the first period and then put back a rebound past Connor Hellebuyck for No. 600 in the second. The Russian winger became the 20th player and fourth-fastest in NHL history to the milestone and is on pace to lead the league in goals for the seventh time with 42 on the season. He said: “Of course it’s special. You can see when I score the goal, everybody tried to find me, everybody tried to look at me. I knew if I’m gonna have another one, I’m gonna score”. Ovechkin continued a season-long trend of scoring a high volume of goals for the Capitals, who lost significant talent from back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy-winning teams. He has roughly a fifth of Washington’s goals this season and needed to be on his game against Patrik Laine and Winnipeg. Everyone was left in awe of the great Ovechkin, who could become the first player age 32 or older to lead the NHL in goals since Phil Esposito in 1974-75. “I’m sure one day we’ll look at it and get perspective on it,” Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said. “But it’s all a part of this process and he’s not fazed by it. He said the other day 40’s good but 50’s nicer and he’s going to get 50 goals. You can just tell he’s very, very determined and he is a historic player.” Ovechkin joined Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Brett Hull as the only players to score 600 in fewer than 1,000 games. He said his wife, Nastya, who just returned from a weeklong trip to Moscow, had a feeling he would accomplish the feat against the Jets. Ovechkin added: “Right now parents in Moscow and she makes it. It’s kind of nice when someone from your family is in the stands.”
Marc-Andre Fleury was busy doing work in Philadelphia to become the 13th goalie in NHL history to record 400 career wins. He did it by stopping 38 of the 40 shots he faced in a 3-2 win over the Flyers to help Vegas extend its lead in the Pacific Division. Twenty-eight of Fleury’s career wins have come against the Flyers, the team he has beaten the second most times in his career (he has defeated the New York Rangers 31 times). Ryan Carpenter‘s goal late in the third period broke a 2-2 tie to give Fleury the offensive support he needed for the win. William Karlsson also continued his stunning season for Vegas by scoring his 36th goal of the season in the win. From the moment the Golden Knights received Fleury from the Penguins as part of the expansion draft process he was expected to be one of the core building blocks for the first year team. When healthy he has probably exceeded expectations by putting together one of the best seasons of his career. Given that he is now a member of the 400-win club and been a part of three Stanley Cup winning teams, that is no small accomplishment. For the Flyers, the loss continues their recent slide that has seen them drop six out of their past seven games.
David Staples as reported by the Edmonton Journal, doesn’t see the Oilers moving center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, forward Leon Draisaitl or defenseman Oscar Klefbom. Instead, he thinks Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli could shop draft picks, including their 2018 first-round selection, which will be a lottery pick. He also doesn’t rule out the possibility of Chiarelli dealing away young winger Jesse Puljujarvi. If Chiarelli targets a team with salary-cap trouble, Staples thinks the Oilers could get a good veteran player with their second-round selection in this year’s draft. If the Oilers target someone such as Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, their first-round pick (along with someone such as Klefbom) might make sense. However, if the Oilers win the draft lottery, Staples feels they’ll “almost certainly” retain that pick. Allan Mitchell has some suggestions on how the Oilers can improve their roster this summer without breaking the bank. Among them could be pursuing players such as Detroit’s Andreas Athanasiou, Calgary’s Sam Bennett or Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman via the trade market or Columbus winger Thomas Vanek via free agency. Some promising AHL players could include Pittsburgh’s Daniel Sprong, Winnipeg’s Brendan Lemieux, Calgary’s Andrew Mangiapane or Arizona’s Nick Merkley.