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Alex Ovechkin becomes top Russian goal-scorer

by Katie Brown

WASHINGTON -- When Alex Ovechkin scored his 484th NHL goal Thursday against the Dallas Stars at Verizon Center, breaking a tie with Sergei Fedorov for most goals by a Russian-born player, the pass came from Nicklas Backstrom.

Seven years ago, Backstrom did the same for Fedorov.

Ovechkin's record-setting goal came against the Stars, just as Fedorov's did on Oct. 25, 2008. Fedorov played 70 games with the Capitals at the end of his NHL career and is a mentor and friend to Ovechkin.

"Without my teammates I would never accomplish that," Ovechkin said. "Good moment, but unfortunately we lost the game."

Ovechkin has 484 goals in 777 NHL games, the most of any player since he's been in the League. Fedorov had 483 goals in 1,248 NHL games; he passed Alexander Mogilny for the Russian record with No. 474.

Since reaching 483 goals on Nov. 7, Ovechkin thought he broke the record twice, but each time the goal was disallowed. He had gone four games without scoring.

"Sooner or later I knew it was going to go," Ovechkin said. "Of course you get a little frustrated when you have good chances go, especially in the second [period] when I hit the post. … I think it was an important goal for us -- put us back in the game -- but I think we deserved more today, at least a point."

The Capitals lost 3-2; after Ovechkin's historic goal, his ninth of the season, tied the game, Jason Spezza scored the game-winner with 8:50 left.

"I think he wishes, too, that we won the game, but obviously a huge accomplishment," Backstrom said. "I'm really happy for him. He's a terrific player, and I enjoy watching him every day. He's had such a big impact on the whole city of Washington and the team, how we've been going since he's been here. It's just amazing how he's taken the whole team on his shoulders. It's been fun so far but we still haven't accomplished anything yet. Obviously, individual goals, but we haven't accomplished the thing we want yet."

Capitals coach Barry Trotz said he knew Ovechkin would break through eventually and figured Thursday was as good a night as any.

"Everybody was excited," Trotz said. "It was pretty exciting for everybody, because they knew that that was a little bit of history. You could tell he was gripping it pretty good. It was only fitting; I thought Ovi played his best game probably in the last five. I sort of call it 'beast mode,' where he's playing hard and he's just a beast out there to handle. I knew he was going to score today, you know when he's in that mode he's going to score."

Trotz is quick to point out that despite the similarities in Ovechkin and Fedorov's production, the two have very different, but special playing styles.

"They're totally different," Trotz said. "Sergei was a real cerebral player; he played with a lot of grace. He played hard, but he was a real smooth player and very efficient and very smart. When you see Ovi play, he plays with power. Not that he can't play with finesse; he's got some of the best goals that you'll ever see on the planet. He's more of that loud player than Sergei."

Ovechkin had the only assist on Fedorov's 483rd goal, scored for the Capitals against the Atlanta Thrashers on April 7, 2009.

Ovechkin is 16 goals away from becoming the 43rd player to score 500 NHL goals. The only active player closer than Ovechkin is Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa, who has 489 goals in 1,188 games.

If Ovechkin scores his 500th goal this season, he will be the fifth-fastest player to do so in NHL history. Wayne Gretzky (575 games), Mario Lemieux (605), Mike Bossy (647) and Brett Hull (693) are the only players to score 500 goals in fewer than 700 games.

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