Alex Ovechkin scores 400th career goal in win
When he scored his first NHL goal against Pascal Leclaire and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Oct. 5, 2005, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin didn’t know how long it would take him to get to No. 400.
Eight years and 634 games later, he knows.
Ovechkin netted his NHL-leading 29th goal of the season Friday night against the Carolina Hurricanes, becoming the sixth-fastest player in NHL history to score his 400th goal.
Ovechkin’s goal, an empty-netter, came with 25 seconds remaining in the Capitals 4-2 win over the Hurricanes at PNC Arena, the same building in which he was drafted by the Capitals first overall in 2004. Marcus Johansson, John Carlson and Troy Brouwer also scored goals for the Caps and Nicklas Backstrom recorded four assists.
“My job is to score goals,” Ovechkin said. “That’s why I get paid and that’s why I’m still here. If I’m not scoring goals, I’m not helping my team to win the game. Of course, I can do different things out there, but I think I’m pretty good at [scoring] and I just have to use it.”
Only Wayne Gretzky [436 games], Mike Bossy , Mario Lemieux , Brett Hull  and Jari Kurri  have gotten to 400 goals faster than Ovechkin. Pavel Bure hit the milestone in his 635th NHL game.
Asked about reaching 400 goals, Ovechkin credited the teammates he’s had over the years – “Without them I’m not going to succeed and I’m not going to get that number” – and the four coaches he’s had since coming to the Capitals as a 19-year-old rookie, Glen Hanlon, Bruce Boudreau, Dale Hunter and Adam Oates, saying “They gave me the opportunity to be where I am right now.”
Oates, who finished his NHL career with 341 goals and 1,079 assists, said Ovechkin’s milestone is noteworthy because he’s playing in an era of better goaltending and better team defense.
“It’s fantastic because goaltending gets better and better every year and team structure gets better and better every year,” Oates said. “To keep putting numbers up is going to be a real accomplishment in the game of hockey. It’s an incredible accomplishment and for the guys that play with then, a huge honor for them, too.”