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NHL Stadium Series

Ovechkin can reach milestones with Capitals in Stadium Series

Closing in on 600 goals, ninth 40-goal season entering outdoor game against Maple Leafs

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals have known they are going to face the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2018 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland, on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVAS, NHL.TV) since the event was announced May 29.

After their 3-2 win against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, the outdoor game is the next on their schedule.

"I think it's going to be a fabulous event because of the fact of where it's at [and] the opponent," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "I'm a big military fan in terms of what our service people do for us and I've been to Annapolis many times, so I think it's going to be spectacular."

 

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It could be a special day for Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, who was held without a goal Tuesday, leaving him one short of 40 for the season and three away from 600 for his NHL career.

Ovechkin, 32, would become the 20th player in NHL history to reach 600 goals and the fourth to do it in fewer than 1,000 games, joining Wayne Gretzky (718 games), Mario Lemieux (719) and Brett Hull (900), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. 

Ovechkin, who has played 985 games, is also looking to reach the 40-goal plateau for the ninth time in his 13 NHL seasons. He'd be the sixth player in League history to get 40 or more goals in at least nine seasons. 

There will also be a lot on the line for each team.

Video: WSH@CBJ: Ovechkin nets PPG in milestone game

The Capitals (36-21-7) are in first place in the Metropolitan Division, one point ahead of the second-place Philadelphia Flyers and three ahead of the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins. 

The Maple Leafs (39-20-7) are in second place in the Atlantic Division, four points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning and one ahead of the third-place Boston Bruins.

Washington and Toronto are familiar with each other from playing in the Eastern Conference First Round last season. The Capitals won the best-of-7 series in six games, with each game decided by one goal and five decided in overtime.

"Two good teams are going to go nose-to-nose," Trotz said. "Honestly, I haven't thought a whole lot about it until now because we've had a grinding stretch here -- the number of games, opponents, all that. So, I'm looking forward to it now."

It will be the third outdoor game for each team. The Capitals defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 in the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh and defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Nationals Park in Washington.

Video: 2018 Stadium Series time-lapse in Annapolis, Maryland

The Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout in the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic in front of a record crowd of 105,491 at Michigan Stadium and won 5-4 in overtime against the Red Wings in the 2017 Scotiabank NHL Centennial Classic at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto.

The teams are scheduled to practice at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Friday.

"I think everyone's looking forward to it," Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "It's a fun event. Guys will be fired up for it."

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