- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 25, 2018

Alex Ovechkin’s 595th career goal came in the same fashion that has become a staple during his 13 years with Washington. From the left circle — his signature spot — Ovechkin received the puck on a power play and rifled his shot past Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner.

Before the end of Capitals’ 5-1 victory Saturday, Ovechkin tacked on another goal — bringing his season total to 38.

He’s now just four away from 600, a mark only 19 others in NHL history have achieved.

With three games this week, there’s a chance Ovechkin could reach the milestone soon.

And he knows it.

“When you get closer, you want it done earlier,” Ovechkin said, smiling. “You’re stuck at 599 — you want to pass it. Hoping in a couple of games I will have it done and we move forward.”

Drafted by the Capitals in 2004, Ovechkin has spent his career breaking milestones and records. After Monday’s contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets, he’ll hold the franchise record for most games played with 984. He tied Calle Johansson’s 983 on Saturday.

“Getting old, you know?” Ovechkin said. “Soon it’s going to be 1,000 and obviously that’s a very big number for games. I’m pretty happy to reach that milestone with one organization. It’s pretty cool.”

If he stays healthy, which hasn’t been a problem during his career, Ovechkin will play his 1,000th career game on April 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“In this day and age obviously, there’s not a lot of players that are with their same team,” coach Barry Trotz said. “Those days are past a little bit. I think it’s important for a franchise when you’re the face of a franchise. And durability. He doesn’t play a light game usually, you know? He’s durable. Those two combinations, he’s had a big impact on the franchise for a long time now.”

After finishing last season with only 33 goals and a career-low average for time on the ice, Capitals management made it clear the franchise needed more, despite questions about whether Ovechkin, 32, had enough left to keep up in a league full of faster, younger stars.

Ovechkin trained in his native Russia over the summer and arrived back in the District weeks earlier than usual. He made a statement in his first game of the season — tallying up a hat trick in Ottawa — and he hasn’t looked back since.

His 38 goals are a league best. Of those, 27 are at even-strength, far surpassing his career-low 16 of last season.

Trotz has repeatedly said Ovechkin wants to prove he’s still among the league’s best. On Saturday, Trotz added Ovechkin has had 600 goals on his “radar” all year.

Ovechkin, Trotz said, has been moving his feet much better this season.

“He doesn’t need a big window,” Trotz said. “You get the puck to him at the right time — it’s magic. … He’s one of those unique goal scorers that are rare. And he’s scored a ton of goals in this league.”

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