Dylan Strome and the returning Blackhawks
We’ll get to the real exciting stuff in a moment, but tonight’s Blackhawks game was a “homecoming” of sorts for former Blackhawks Dylan Strome, Erik Gustafsson, and Trevor van Riemsdyk. Yeah, I know van Riemsdyk hasn’t been around for a long time, but he’s the only one of the three with his name on the Stanley Cup, so I count him.
With all eyes on Alex Ovechkin tonight, it was van Riemdsyk and Strome that helped extend the Washington Capitals’ lead in the second period.
On the night, Strome finished with one assist and a shot on goal in 16:14 minutes, while van Riemsdyk had the one goal in 17:13 minutes of work and Gustafsson added two shots on net and was a plus-two in 18:19 minutes of ice time.
It was a nice touch by the Blackhawks to give Strome a “welcome back” moment, with Gustafsson tagging along on it too. Something they didn’t do for Kirby Dach, who went on to have a major “F- you” moment later in his return to Chicago to raucous boos. No boos for Strome, but also, no real reaction from him as well. Chicago never gave him the best environment to thrive and when they did, fans were largely not on board with him.
Good for him and his success in Washington this season.
Alex Ovechkin Reaches 800
All eyes, all of them, were focused on Alex Ovechkin tonight. For good reason. He was coming into this game chasing Gordie Howe (801) and Wayne Gretzky (894) in the all-time goal-scoring race. Those are the only two players in NHL history to reach the 800-goal mark in their careers.
That was until tonight.
24 seconds into the game, Ovechkin netted his 798th career goal to put the Capitals up 1-0 as the Blackhawks gave up the game’s opening goal for the 22nd time this season. With the goal, Ovechkin became the NHL’s all-time leader in scoring game-opening goals with his 136th, surpassing Jaromir Jagr. It was Ovechkin’s personal third-fastest goal to begin a game.
He wasn’t done.
Still in the first period, Ovechkin made it 799 career goals with a powerplay tally that put Washington up 2-0 in the opening frame.
There was still more than 50 minutes of hockey to play at that point of the game, but the only thing that mattered was if, or rather when, he would net that 800th goal.
It came in the third period.
Alex Ovechkin scored his third goal of the game to give the Capitals a 5-2 lead in the third period. It was No. 800 for his career, making him just third player in NHL history to reach that mark. It was also Ovechkin’s 29th NHL hat-trick, moving him ahead of Marcel Dionne and Bobby Hull for sixth in League history.
He’s going to go down as the greatest goal-scorer in NHL history when it’s all said and done when you factor in the kind of strength of competition he faced on the ice and in net, and at the pace in which he reached 800, and eventually reaches and surpasses 894.
It’s going to happen.
Tyler Johnson scores in his return
After suffering a setback in his recovery from an ankle injury a few short weeks ago, Tyler Johnson was activated off injured reserve ahead of the game tonight and was thrust back into the lineup on a line with Jason Dickinson and Jujhar Khaira.
Trying to put a little water on the Ovechkin first period flame, Johnson scored in the opening period to cut what was then the Capitals lead to 2-1. It was Johnson’s third goal of the season and seventh point of the year in seven games played.
It was Johnson’s first game since October 25 against the Florida Panthers and the 32-year-old played 15:13 minutes tonight and finished with two shots on net, one going in.