As Alexander Ovechkin joins the elite 800-goal club, we break down the highlights, numbers and moments along his journey -- and what comes next.Narrated by Emily Kaplan
[Emily Kaplan] What makes Ovechkin prolific?
An absolute rockstar.
From year one, The Great Eight has been a force in this league.
Breaking records and winning awards.
[Announcer] ...the words the DC fans have been waiting to hear.
We're Stanley Cup champions!
But now, The Great Eight chases a different legacy.
[Announcer] Alex Ovechkin, fourth all-time!
That's my job. I love to score goals.
[Announcer] The watch for history is truly on!
[Kaplan] Ovechkin's journey to 800 goals is historic.
Not only because who he's passed to get here,
but how iconic his goals are.
[Announcer] Wanna see power, skating,
determination and the finish?
Here it is.
Without goals you can't win the games.
[Announcer] What a play.
Someone has to do it.
I mean, he's got that hunger for scoring.
You know how great of a goalscorer he is.
[Announcer] Watch him put it on top of his stick.
Once. Twice. Three. Then he banks it in.
It's almost like you take it for granted
because he's done it year after year.
[Announcer] ... He scores!
This may be his prettiest goal.
Falling down and scoring from...
[Announcer] Simply sensational!
And even Wayne Gretzky's looking up on the
overhead scoreboard to just take a second look.
Pretty sick, yeah.
[Kaplan] Beyond the highlight goals, Ovechkin has
always had a dedication to the craft of goal scoring.
He's got such a...
accuracy with his slap shot and wrist shot.
[Announcer] Ovechkin Scores!
It makes it hard for the goalies, I think.
He shoots hard.
Sometimes they squeak through your arm, you know.
In between your arms and body. Or hits it up high.
You try to cover as much net as you can, you know.
But he's still able to hit those posts and corners.
[Announcer] Ovechkin, creeping back towards the office.
[Kaplan] What is The Ovi Office?
[Ovechkin] I don't know, it's a...
you gave it that name, so...
I'll take it, why not.
The Ovi Office...it's gotta be...
top of the circle, on the left side.
Obviously, one of the toughest guys to stop.
He's got such a good release.
His wrist or his one-timer, obviously,
from his powerplay spot there on the dot.
They come in high, hard, heavy, you know.
[Kaplan] Ovechkin transformed hockey in DC.
In 17 years, playing in the capital,
over 100 teammates assisted him,
on the road to 800.
No teammate played a larger role in
the path to 800 than Niklas Backstrom.
Assisting in 278 of Ovi's goals.
[Kaplan] What are the keys to delivering
a perfect pass to Ovi?
It's gotta be flat. That's number 1.
[Announcer] Look at that pass.
Right on the tape and right in the wheelhouse.
[Ovechkin] When he came to the league,
I think we connected to each other.
[Announcer] Here's this from Backstrom.
The dish for Ovechkin. Shoots and he scores!
Obviously with his skill and vision,
it's pretty cool to watch.
[Kaplan] Ovechkin has had a long career.
Collecting goals, trophies and rivals.
He has scored on plenty of legendary goalies,
but Devils star Martin Brodeur stands out in his memory.
It's always a challenge when you play against great goalies,
but I like to play against Martin Brodeur, obviously.
[Announcer] Ovechkin goes way wide, forehand, score!
He was one of the best.
[Announcer] Here is The Great Eight, fires! Save by Brodeur.
When I faced him, it was a challenge.
[Kaplan] Ovi's list of victims is long,
but no one has allowed more Ovechkin goals
than goalie Marc Andre-Fleury.
Obviously we have fun playing against each other.
They have a solid group of guys who've won the cup
and there was always a challenge.
He was a top goalie back then, obviously,
right now he is a top goalie.
[Kaplan] But Ovechkin's rivalries extend
beyond the crease, as well.
There was lots of rivalry of Washington and Pittsburgh.
Me and Sid.
[Announcer] Ovechkin with a little bit of a rough
and then Crosby gave him a shove.
It's a storyline that doesn't go away.
It's been going on for a long time.
Captain against captain, just a little mug shot.
Then the elbow to the head.
A hat trick.
[Kaplan] These rivalries have only help fuel Ovechkin.
The Great 800.
When you say that number, it's just. It's crazy.
It's a crazy number and the consistency and the ability
just to evolve. I mean, he's got a big shot,
but a big shot can only get you so far.
First of all, 800 goals is a great milestone, I think.
It's just incredible.
[Ovechkin] Yeah, it's pretty cool. It's a pretty cool moment,
obvious to me, for the organization, for my family.
But we still have a long way to go and
we'll see what's going to happen.
[Kaplan] Even if he doesn't catch Gretzky,
Ovechkin's entry into the exclusive 800 goals club
guarantees him hockey immortality.
Ovi is a lock as a hockey Hall of Famer...
whenever he decides to retire.
Alex Ovechkin is the greatest scorer of his generation and one of the most iconic athletes in Washington DC sports history.
Ovechkin was 18 years old when the Capitals drafted him No. 1 overall in 2004. He then captained the franchise for more than two decades, captured a record nine league scoring titles and delivered the city its first Stanley Cup. And in his age 37 season, hasn't shown many signs of slowing down.
After the 2004-05 lockout, Ovechkin left Russia for the NHL. Ovechkin was Washington's first No. 1 overall pick in 28 years, tasked with turning around a team that won 23 games the year he was drafted.
Pressure and attention didn't faze him, he fed off it. Ovechkin was a runaway winner of the Calder Trophy, scoring 52 goals in his rookie season.
Hockey players are notoriously superstitious and Ovi has his rituals. Before every power play, he switches to a new pair of gloves. But perhaps nothing is as distinctive as his eating habits around games: he scarfs down a heavy dose of chicken parm and creamy pasta before home games, and gulps cola on the bench.
Day at the Office
Ovechkin is a master of his craft -- and for him it comes down to the details. As the son of two athletes -- his mother, Tatyana, was a two-time Olympic gold medalist in basketball while his father, Mikhail, played professional soccer -- Ovechkin first picked up a hockey stick at two years old.
As a child, Ovechkin's parents said they could tell their son was "destined for sporting greatness" because of his dedication and curiosity. Teammates say his singular focus to become elite at one thing - goal scoring -- is what separates him.
While Ovechkin has been the team's anchor, it wasn't always easy for the Capitals to find the right formula for success. Ovechkin has had two general managers, seven head coaches and more than 100 teammates. The team toyed with different systems and styles, figuring out how to maximize their superstar.
Certain players always gelled with Ovechkin -- no one more than Swedish center Nicklas Backstrom, who was drafted No. 4 overall in 2006. Ovechkin and Backstrom became the first pair of Capitals teammates to play in 1,000 games together.
Ovechkin also found strong connections with Mike Green and Alexander Semin in his early years, and John Carlson, Tom Wilson and Evgeny Kuznetsov of late.
Ovechkin has long had a target on his back, with other players and teams bringing out their best when they face him.
But no player was pitted against Ovechkin more -- on the ice, and in the media -- than Sidney Crosby, the captain of the rival Pittsburgh Penguins. While they have inherently different styles, Sid and Ovi both dominated in their own rights as they became co-faces of the league. It was always appointment television when Penguins and Capitals played, including four times in the playoffs. Pittsburgh had Washington's number, beating the Capitals in the first three meetings, all en route to Stanley Cups.
It wasn't until the Caps could get past their Achilles heel -- and ousted the Pens in the 2018 second round -- that they would go on to win the one trophy Ovechkin coveted more than anything.
Ovechkin's dominance has put him in a class of his own in today's game. His 800 goals since 2005 are more than 250 goals than anyone else has scored in that span. And yes, next closest is Crosby. Gretzky says he will get on the road and follow Ovechkin once he gets close to his record -- just as Gordie Howe did for Gretzky in 1994.
But even if Ovechkin doesn't catch the record, he's already achieved hockey immortality and is a lock for the Hockey Hall of Fame at first eligibility.
Ovechkin is a massive sports fan, and pays close attention to other superstars and their habits. His favorites: Lionel Messi, Kobe Bryant, Novak Djokovic. Like the athletes he admires, Ovechkin has reached icon status even before he retires.
Produced by ESPN Creative Studio: Leon Belt, Rob Booth, Dominique DeMoe, Jessi Dodge, Heather Donahue, Jarret Gabel, Luke Knox, Joey Maese and Rachel Weiss
Design by Studio 28K. Video courtesy Washington Capitals. Photo credits: AP Photo, Getty Images.