Moments after he sniped his 49th goal of the season on Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes, chants of "We want 50!" echoed through Capital One Arena. Fans got the 4-1 win - the first of back-to-back victories over Carolina - but Alex Ovechkin's milestone would have to wait.
Until Saturday night.
The NHL's most prolific goal-scorer tallied No. 50 on the season, icing the game as the Capitals took a 5-2 lead over Tampa Bay in the third period. Ovechkin would later score his 51st on a power play in the 6-3 win, moving him into 13th all-time in goals (658) and tied for fourth on the man-advantage (247).
"I had chances earlier, but I knew it would eventually come, especially with the guys knowing that I had 49," Ovechkin said. "They try to find me all the time, so it's thanks to them … You always want to do something special. Sometimes it's hard, so I'm happy to be able to get it done."
This is Ovechkin's eighth time getting it done - a 50-goal year - making an incredible accomplishment almost seem customary for the 33-year old forward. He's just the third player in history to reach 50 goals in eight different seasons, in company with Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy (nine).
"It's almost unfair, that you kind of just expect him to score 50 every year," said T.J. Oshie, who threaded the assist between three Lightning defenders on Ovechkin's milestone goal.
Oshie said at this point, the team recognizes more of the "little things" that make Ovechkin not only the best goal-scorer but a complete player, noting his ability to check and wear down opposing defenses.
"I think those are the things he's done a great job of the last couple years and it's turned him into a complete, 200-foot player," Oshie said. "We're able to have him out there in those big moments and we know he's going to take care of us."
Added Braden Holtby: "He has the best shot in hockey, so it doesn't come as a surprise to us. But the biggest thing for him the last couple years is that he's focused on all areas and has still been able to put up goals. I think that's the big reason why we've had success and why he's had success. But it's pretty amazing to watch him shoot a puck. It's like nothing else."
Ovechkin, who leads the NHL in goals (51) with three games left, could also take home his eighth Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy. No other player has won it twice since its creation during the 1998-99 season, and should Ovechkin finish atop the league, he'd be the first player since 1974-75 to lead the NHL in goals at age 33 or older. A fitting side note for a 14-year veteran who's hitting the puck just as hard.
"The NHL is fortunate to have a guy like this," coach Todd Reirden said. "We're spoiled in Washington, for sure, but the whole National Hockey League is fortunate to have a guy like this. Just really happy for him, because he's put the work in."
Ovechkin kept his promise to fans but remains focused on the bigger picture. And Saturday's win in Tampa Bay signaled a Capitals team ready to defend the Cup.
"I think we set the tone right away, sent a message right away," Ovechkin said. "All four lines played outstanding. Obviously, [the Lightning] has a good team, an experienced team, and we have to send a message right away.