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Alex Ovechkin ties Canadiens great in Montreal

Capitals forward scores 544th NHL goal, even with Maurice 'Rocket' Richard

by Arpon Basu @ArponBasu / LNH.com Senior Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- To say that Alex Ovechkin is this era's version of Maurice "Rocket" Richard is not a stretch.

It is a fact.

No one scored goals at the rate Richard did in the 1940s and 1950s, and no one has come close to doing so at the rate Ovechkin has with the Washington Capitals over the first 12 seasons of his NHL career.

Ovechkin matched Richard's NHL goal total of 544 in the city where the Rocket made his living playing for the Montreal Canadiens on Monday in a 4-1 win for the Capitals, and it could not have been more appropriate.

Not only did he do it in Montreal, he did it in the most Ovechkin way possible, with a laser of a wrist shot from the top of the circle on a power play that beat Canadiens goalie Carey Price clean at 16:36 of the third period.

"It's nice to be in history, nice to be tied with a legend," Ovechkin said. "Still have lots of years to go and I'm going to try to do my best."

Video: The guys discuss Alex Ovechkin's insane Sweeper Shot

The goal was also Ovechkin's 999th point of his NHL career, setting him up to reach 1,000 NHL points at Verizon Center when the Capitals host Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports).

The milestones are piling up quickly for Ovechkin, 31, who feels like his career is whizzing by just as fast.

"It means I'm getting older," he said. "I remember my first year, my first game, it was like five minutes ago. Time moves forward and time moves quick. So you have to enjoy every second, every moment when you have the opportunity and try to do something special."

The NHL created the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy in 1998 to recognize the League's top goal scorer, and no one has won it as often as Ovechkin's six times, including in each of the past four seasons.

When you compare Ovechkin and Richard to their peers, the similarities between the two become a bit clearer.

Over the first 12 seasons of Ovechkin's career, the second-highest goal total belongs to Colorado Avalanche forward Jarome Iginla at 366. Ovechkin's 544 goals are 48.6 percent more than Iginla's total.

Over the first 12 full seasons of Richard's career, from 1943-44 to 1954-55, he scored 417 goals. Second over that span was Detroit Red Wings right wing Gordie Howe at 271, who played 136 fewer games. Richard's total over those 12 seasons was 53.9 percent higher than Howe's.

"I went by him today and we talked and I said, 'You know, it would be pretty cool,'" Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "I know every era has a great goal scorer and obviously the Rocket was fantastic. They named a trophy after him and Ovi's won it a number of times. You know, Ovi's big on those big moments, and from [that] standpoint I think he recognized how great the Rocket was and to just tie the record with him in this building would be pretty special."

Video: Brett Connolly on Alex Ovechkin, goal vs. Habs

The shot Ovechkin used to score the goal made the moment that much more poignant, because that was a vintage Ovechkin goal.

"When that shot, that thing comes off his stick, there's very few guys who can release the puck the way he can and how he does," Trotz said. "It was a fitting moment for him tonight."

Perhaps no one has seen that shot more often than Capitals goalie Braden Holtby, who has had the unfortunate task of facing it in practice every day for his five seasons as a full-time NHL player. Holtby claims Ovechkin has only scored on him 300 or 400 times in that span, not 544 times as he has against opposing goalies, but that gives him a special appreciation of the shot he used to score Monday.

"That's just a smart shot," Holtby said. "A lot of guys can do that, but a lot of guys don't understand why you do that. Don't understand why that's so hard as a goaltender to stop, the timing of it and realizing the situation of not having to blast it through.

"Just seeing what it is and scoring."

Seeing what it is and scoring.

It would be difficult to find a better description of what Ovechkin has done for the past 12 seasons.

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