A mere 35 seconds into Wednesday night's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Caps captain Alex Ovechkin took a feed from Nicklas Backstrom and beat Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for a 1-0 Washington lead. With that goal, Ovechkin becomes the first player in Capitals franchise history to record 1,000 points with the team.
Ovechkin is the 37th player in league history to reach 1,000 points with the same franchise, and he is the 84th player in the league's history to achieve the milestone. In reaching 1,000 in his 880th career contest, Ovechkin is the second fastest active player to attain the plateau, trailing only Florida's Jaromir Jagr (763 games). Ovechkin is the 24th fastest to reach 1,000 of the 84 who have done so, and he has the second most goals (545) through the first 1,000 points of any player's career, trailing only Brett Hull (560).
Video: Highlights from Alex Ovechkin's historic career
The goal was Ovechkin's 20th of the season; he becomes the 16th player in league history to record a dozen straight 20-goal seasons at the start of his career. Ovechkin is the only NHL player with at least 20 goals in every season since 2005-06.
Wednesday's game pitted the league's two hottest teams and two of its fiercest rivals. Both Washington and Pittsburgh entered the game with 57 points, tied for second place in the Metropolitan Division standings. In scoring the game's first goal just 35 seconds in, Ovechkin gave his team an early lead in an important game, and forced the Pens to play catch-up right off the hop.
The league's most prolific offensive team, the Pens threatened throughout but were never able to climb even with the Capitals, who never relinquished the early lead from Ovechkin's goal.
"They had the good start, but we had a number of chances to get back into it," says Pens captain Sidney Crosby. "Their goalie made some saves and we weren't able to capitalize. We've got to find ways to score goals and not allow them to pad their lead."
For good measure, Ovechkin got started on his next thousand points in the second period, pounding a power-play goal past Fleury from his office at the left dot. His first goal of the game moved Ovechkin into sole possession of 29th place on the league's all-time goals list, one ahead of Hockey Hall of Famer Maurice "Rocket" Richard.
Next in Ovechkin's sights is Hockey Hall of Famer Michel Goulet, who ranks 28th in NHL history with 548 goals.
One last Ovi note here: his power-play goal was the 203rd of his NHL career, moving him one ahead of Hockey Hall of Famer (detecting a trend here?) Steve Yzerman for 16th place on the league's all-time power-play goals ledger. Next up, The Great One. Wayne Gretzky had 204 career power-play goals.
Video: PIT@WSH: Backstrom drives the net, pads lead with PPG
Hey, Nineteen - After assisting on Ovechkin's milestone goal, Backstrom added a goal of his own and two more assists later in the contests for a four-point night against Pittsburgh.
Backstrom had a two-assist game against the Pens on opening night (Oct. 13) in Pittsburgh, and he had two goals and five points against the Penguins on Nov. 16, a 7-1 Washington win.
The Caps have scored 14 goals in three games against the Penguins this season, and Backstrom has had a hand in 11 of them (three goals, 11 assists). That's the most points any one player has scored against any one opponent in the league this season, and it's the most points any one player has scored against the Penguins since New Jersey's Ilya Kovalchuk totaled 11 points in six games against the Penguins during the 2011-12 season.
Since he entered the NHL in 2007-08, Backstrom leads the NHL in three-assist games (33) and ranks tied for third in four-point games (17).
Backstrom's four-point night on Wednesday gives him 38 points (11 goals, 27 assists) on the season and propels him into the league's top 15 scorers. Backstrom leads the Caps in scoring and is tied for 15th in the league in that department.
Video: Caps players talk about #Ovech1kin, 5-2 win
Twenty - Caps goalie Braden Holtby stopped 30 of 32 shots he faced on Wednesday to record his 20th victory of the season.
When he won the Vezina Trophy last season, Holtby rolled up a remarkable 48-9-7 record in 66 starts. He has made exactly half as many (33) starts this season, and has posted a 20-8-4 record.
While Holtby had three shutouts in 66 starts last season, he already has five in 33 starts in 2016-17. Holtby's qualitative numbers this season are actually better than they were in his Vezina season. He had a 2.20 GAA and a .922 save pct. in 2015-16 and he has a 1.90 GAA and a .932 save pct.
Holtby had 42 quality starts last season; he has 22 thus far in 2016-17. In his last 16 games, he has a 1.54 GAA and a .945 save pct. Since the calendar flipped to 2017, Holtby has a 1.31 GAA and a .952 save pct.
Climbing The Ladder - Caps coach Barry Trotz coached his 1,401st NHL game on Wednesday, passing Pat Quinn (1,400) for eighth place on the all-time NHL games coached list. Trotz also passed Quinn (684) for seventh place on the all-time NHL wins list. Trotz has posted a 685-532-60-124 record in his career and a 128-53-24 record in 205 games coached with the Capitals.
Video: Coach Trotz on #Ovech1Kin and 5-2 #CapsPens victory
Halfway Home - Washington reached the halfway mark of the 2016-17 season with Wednesday's win over the Penguins. The Caps are 27-9-5 (59 points) at the midpoint of the campaign, putting them on a pace to rack up 118 points. Last season, the Caps finished with 120 points, and they were 31-7-3 for 65 points at the halfway mark.
From the standpoint of points percentage, the Capitals own the second best record in the NHL at .720. Only the Columbus Blue Jackets (.750) have a better points percentage. The Caps trail the Blue Jackets by a single point in the Metropolitan Division standings, and the Jackets currently hold a game in hand on Washington.
The Caps have permitted an average of just 2.00 goals per game, the best mark in the NHL. Minnesota ranks second at 2.13, and the distance between the Caps and the Wild (.13 goals per game) is greater than the distance between any other two teams from 1-27 on that list.
Washington is averaging 2.90 goals for per game, the seventh best figure in the league, but only fourth best in the Metropolitan Division behind Pittsburgh (3.48), the New York Rangers (3.43) and Columbus (3.33). That trio of Metro clubs ranks 1-3 in the league in that department.
With 84 goals scored at 5-on-5 this season, Washington ranks fifth in the NHL. The Caps finished second in the league with 166 5-on-5 goals in 2015-16.
By The Numbers - Matt Niskanen led the Caps with 23:11 in ice time … Ovechkin led the Caps with seven shots on net and 11 shot attempts … Brooks Orpik led the Caps with three hits … John Carlson led the Caps with four blocked shots … Backstrom and Jay Beagle each won 14 of 21 face-offs (67%).