How Ovechkin's 400th almost didn't happen

How Ovechkin's 400th almost didn't happen
December 21, 2013, 4:30 pm
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Ovechkin on 400 goals: "It's a big number"

News and notes as the Capitals [19-13-3, 41 points] face the New Jersey Devils [14-15-7, 35 points] tonight at VerizonCenter [7 p.m., CSN]:

Revisiting 400: In case you didn’t notice, Alex Ovechkin was at the end of his shift and heading toward the Capitals bench when he saw an opportunity to change direction and score his 400th career goal in an empty net Friday night in Raleigh. In fact, Joel Ward was so certain Ovechkin was coming to the bench, he had already hopped on the ice to replace him. “I thought he was coming to the bench and then he decided he didn’t, so I decided to go back,” Ward said. Adam Oates said Ovechkin was on the ice to preserve a 3-2 lead, not because he was one goal away from a milestone. “I didn’t even think of that at the time,” Oates said. “I was watching the clock. I put them out with 21/2 [minutes] left. I figured I still had my timeout. Guys were getting tired, so we were just rolling nine guys.” Oates said there were a couple factors that contributed to Ovechkin’s goal, noting Marty Erat’s “big, huge block” and a “nice little pass” from Nicklas Backstrom.

Goalie matchup: Rookie Philipp Grubauer [4-0-1, 2.05, .940] is expected to make his sixth career start for the Capitals and first against the Devils. Marty Brodeur [10-8-2, 2.30, .906] will be making his 21st appearance of the season and the 1,241st of his career. In 61 career games against the Caps, Brodeur is 39-17-4 with a 2.29 GAA and .907 save percentage.

[RELATED: Old guys rule for Devils]

Hands of silk: Backstrom’s four-assist game in Raleigh was his second of the season and the ninth of his career. Backstrom has 14 points [2 goals, 12 assists] in his last five games and has earned a point in five consecutive games. He ranks first in the NHL in assists [33], power-play points [23], power-play assists [21] and tied for third in points [41]. Since Backstrom entered the NHL in 2007-08, no player has tallied more four-assist games, and only three players have collected more assists [Henrik Sedin, Joe Thornton, Martin St. Louis].

Powerful play:  The Caps scored three power-play goals in the second period on Friday, marking the fourth time this season they’ve scored three or more power-play goals in a game and the third time they’ve netted three in one period. The Caps are 35 for 133 [26.3 percent], ranking second in the NHL. The Caps have at least one power-play goal in five consecutive games and have nine in their last five games. Washington leads the NHL with 21 power-play goals at home.

Trending: With their win on Friday against Carolina, the Capitals improved to 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and 5-1-1 in their last seven. Washington has won three straight games at home. The Devils have earned points in three straight games [2-0-1] but are 5-7-2 in their last 14 games.

Chasing history: Jaromir Jagr passed Steve Yzerman for eighth on the NHL’s all-time goal list with his 693rd on Dec. 18. His next goal will tie him with Mark Messier for seventh on that list. Jagr [1,718 points] is also five points behind Mario Lemieux for seventh on the all-time list.


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