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Ovechkin sets sights on 700th NHL goal

Capitals forward can become eighth to reach milestone by scoring twice against Flyers

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Alex Ovechkin woke up Saturday knowing it could be the day he scores his 700th NHL goal. 

But the Washington Capitals forward said being two goals from the milestone won't add to his excitement when he takes the ice against the Philadelphia Flyers at Capital One Arena (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, NBCSWA, NBCSP, NHL.TV).

"I'm excited every game," Ovechkin said after the Capitals morning skate. 

Ovechkin, who has 698 goals in 1,137 regular-season games over 15 seasons, is seeking to become the eighth player in NHL history to score 700, joining Wayne Gretzky (894), Gordie Howe (801), Jaromir Jagr (766), Brett Hull (741), Marcel Dionne (731), Phil Esposito (717) and Mike Gartner (708).

Video: LAK@WSH: Ovechkin earns natural hat trick in win

The 34-year old would be the first player to score 700 goals since Jagr did playing for the New Jersey Devils against the New York Islanders on March 1, 2014. Ovechkin said he's trying not to think about that yet.

"You have to still score two goals, right?" Ovechkin said. "So, when it's going to be 699, yeah, it's going to be in my head. But right now, it's still two goals."

Ovechkin had to wait through three off days since getting to 698 by scoring three goals in the final 6:10 of a 4-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. The Washington captain has 14 goals in his past seven games, including three hat tricks, to reach 40 goals this season, tied with Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews for the NHL lead.

The Capitals hope he picks up where he left off and gets to 700 on home ice Saturday. Ovechkin scored his 500th (vs. Ottawa Senators on Jan. 10, 2016) and 600th goals (vs. Winnipeg Jets on March 12, 2018) at Capital One Arena.

"It's just such a special thing and I think we all agree he's going to move on and probably reach different numbers," linemate T.J. Oshie said. "But 700 is a pretty amazing amount of goals, so as teammates you want to support him and try to help get him there and hopefully do it at home."

If Ovechkin doesn't score his 700th on Saturday, he'll have another chance to do it at home against the Islanders on Monday before the Capitals leave for a three-game road trip to face the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, Arizona Coyotes on Feb. 15 and Vegas Golden Knights on Feb. 17.

"You don't know whether he's going to do it tonight," Capitals forward Tom Wilson said. "He's obviously been filling the net the last 10 games, so everyone assumes he will."

Washington will do its best to help Ovechkin get to 700 quickly, so he and the Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals can move on. 

"Obviously, a number that he's probably had as a goal for a little while here, since [he scored] 600," Oshie said. "So, it's pretty special and me and [center Nicklas Backstrom] will try to get him there or the power play or whatever it is. But you can probably ask [Ovechkin], he probably wants to win the game. So, I don't think we'll make it too crazy to where they just have to go stand on him to get the puck, but it would nice to get him there tonight, for sure, [or] one of these games at home."

Ovechkin's 698th goal was into an empty net to complete his 27th NHL hat trick. He said he wouldn't care if No. 700 was scored the same way.

"For me, it doesn't matter," he said. "Empty-netter, from my head, from my leg, it doesn't matter. It's still a goal."

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