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Alex Ovechkin 1,000-point watch: One more to go

Alex Ovechkin 1,000-point watch: One more to go

Alex Ovechkin tied Canadiens legend Maurice “Rocket” Richard for 29th on the all-time goals list Monday night in Montreal.

The Capitals’ captain also put himself on the doorstep of a significant milestone.

With a goal and two assists in the Capitals’ 4-1 victory at Bell Centre, Ovechkin now stands at 999 career points.

And the best part of it all? He’ll get the chance to add the comma Wednesday night in front of a frenzied crowd at Verizon Center, on national television.

And, oh yeah, the rival Pittsburgh Penguins will be in town.

“He got real close to that 1,000th point,” Coach Barry Trotz told reporters in Montreal. “It’s right that he gets [a chance to get] it done in Washington in front of our own fans.”

Asked what the milestone means to him, Ovechkin cracked: “It means I’m getting older. I just remember my first year, my first game. It’s like it was five minutes ago. Time move forward and time move quick. So you have to enjoy every second of [every] moment. And when you have an opportunity, you have to try and do something special.”

RELATED: Holtby outshines Price in brilliant win over Habs

When Ovechkin gets there, he’ll become the 84th player to reach the 1,000 point plateau and just the fourth Russian-born player to accomplish the feat, joining Sergei Fedorov (1,179), Alexander Mogilny (1,032) and Alexei Kovalev (1,029).

Playing in his favorite road venue Monday, Ovechkin inched ever closer to that exclusive club .

The 31-year-old earned his 997th point with a primary assist on Nicklas Backstrom’s first period goal. He snagged 998 with a primary assist on Evgeny Kuznetsov’s third period strike, which ultimately proved to be the game-winner.

Then, on a late power play, Ovechkin earned point No. 999 on a power play goal that he whipped past Carey Price from the circle. The tally was Ovi’s 19th on the season and the 544th of his career, pulling him even with The Rocket while simultaneously salting the away Washington’s sixth straight win.

Ovechkin owns six Rocket Richard Trophies, the award given to the NHL’s leading goal scorer each season, the award he's claimed four years running.

“It’s nice to be in history,” he said. “It’s nice to be tied with a legend. I still have lots of years to go and I’m going to try and do my best.”

Trotz added: “Watching Ovi’s goal to tie The Rocket, [it was] an exceptional shot. There’s not too many guys on this planet that can let that release go the way he did. He beat Carey Price…that was a wrist shot that had some juice on it.”

When reporter asked Nicklas Backstrom about witnessing so many of Ovechkin's goals, the Swede jumped in and joked, “You want to hear about them? All of them?”

Backstrom then turned serious and added, “He can score from everywhere. I think that’s what makes him so special. And he’s got that special wrist shot, too. It’s fun to see. It’s exciting to play with him.”

The Caps will get Tuesday off to regroup after a two-game trip north of the border. And then the watch for #Ovech1Kin, as the team’s website has dubbed it, will be on high alert in Chinatown.

“He needs one more and then we’re going to celebrate a little, for sure, because that’s huge for the whole organization and, obviously, for all our country,” Kuznetsov said.

MORE CAPITALS: What makes Ovi so special? 'He can score from everywhere'

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Braden Holtby — the skater — is a sight to behold

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CSNMA

Braden Holtby — the skater — is a sight to behold

Braden Holtby is an elusive guy.

The 2015-16 Vezina Trophy winner might be large in stature, but keeps to himself. When you do see him, he's typically covered in layers of goalie pads or briefly chatting with the media following a game.

So imagine the surprise to see Holtby take the ice at Kettler IcePlex well before training camp begins with zero goalie pads on.

That's what took place on Monday morning. As several players hit the ice for some unofficial workout sessions, there was the 6-2 Saskatchewan native strolling onto the ice, with a regular stick, regular skates, regular gloves and Andre Burakovsky's helmet.

RELATED: 2017-18 CAPITALS SEASON PREVIEW SERIES

Frankly, it was a bit odd to see Holtby skate up and down the ice.

Maybe it's because we're used to seeing him in the crouch position. or maybe it's because we actually see his entire figure, not just a pile of leather pads.

But even goalies need to work on non-goalie skills. The more familiar you are with position players, the better you will be to stop them from scoring.

But man, seeing Holtby skate like a forward sure does take some time to get used to. 

RELATED: RANKING THE CAPITALS' MOST IMPORTANT PLAYERS

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The 25 most important players for the Caps: No. 20 Taylor Chorney

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The 25 most important players for the Caps: No. 20 Taylor Chorney

Every player on an NHL team plays a role.

Some play bigger roles than others.

In the coming weeks, Tarik El-Bashir and JJ Regan will rank the 25 most important players in the Caps’ organization, from least to most important, weighing factors such as past production, future potential and intangibles. 

Today’s player: No. 20 Taylor Chorney.

RELATED: 2017-18 CAPITALS SEASON PREVIEW SERIES

One of the more interesting storylines during training camp is going to be the battle along the blue line and where everyone, particularly a veteran like Chorney, fits into the plan as the Caps skew a bit younger.

The top pair is easy to figure out; it’ll be Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen.

After that, it gets a little more interesting.

John Carlson will be on the second pair, perhaps with Aaron Ness.

If that's how things shake out, it would make sense to have Brooks Orpik anchor the third pair, especially if the No. 6 spot goes to a rookie since they'd surely benefit from the steady hand of a soon-to-be 37-year-old.

But will that spot go to a youngster like Christian Djoos, Madison Bowey or someone else? 

Or will it go to Chorney, a 30-year-old who's appeared in 141 NHL games spread over eight seasons for four clubs?

The Caps anticipate that Djoos and Bowey are closer to being NHL-ready than their other defenseman prospects.

Djoos lit up the AHL last season to the tune of 58 points in 66 games and the team needs to replace some offense. Bowey, meanwhile, has the look of a promising two-way defenseman.

But here’s the drawback—and where Chorney, in my opinion, fits into the equation.

Neither Djoos nor Bowey have done it yet. And until they do, no one can be 100-percent sure they’re completely ready to handle the everyday duties that the NHL demands. 

Chorney, to that end, has a significant advantage in experience, at a position where it matters a lot. He appeared in 18 games last season and a career-high 55 games the year before, also with the Caps. 

The bottom line: I suspect Chorney, who is entering the final year of his contract, will open camp penciled in as the team’s No. 6/7.

I also expect that he'll play a decent amount this season, maybe more than last year but perhaps less than 2015-16. I could even see him in the opening night lineup. Eventually, though, the Caps will want to see Djoos, Bowey or another youngster squeeze their way past Chorney and into the lineup full-time.        

Check out the full list of the Caps most important players as it comes out here and check out previous player profiles below.

— No. 25 Aaron Ness
— No. 24 Chandler Stephenson
— No. 23 Riley Barber
— No. 22 Pheonix Copley
No. 21 Devante Smith-Pelly