Alex Ovechkin on approaching 500 goals: I'll score one sooner or later

NEW YORK -- Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin stands on the brink of history.

By scoring twice in Washington's dramatic 4-3 overtime win over the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon, Ovechkin now has 499 career regular-season goals. His next goal will make him the first Russian-born player to reach the 500-goal plateau.

He will get a chance to earn that honor in front of home fans Sunday night against the Ottawa Senators.

Earlier this season, he passed Hall of Famer Sergei Fedorov as the highest-scoring Russian player in NHL history.

"I'm just going to take it game by game," Ovechkin said after he scored the game winner by racing the length of the ice and ripping a shot past New York defenseman Ryan McDonagh and netminder Henrik Lundqvist.

"If I score, I score," he said. "If not, there's plenty of games left. I'm still going to score one goal sooner or later."

Can he imagine reaching the 500-goal mark at home?

"To be honest with you, I didn't even think about it right now," Ovechkin, 30, said. "Probably I'm going to think about it tomorrow before the game. But again, right now it's a huge comeback for us, and like I said, if it happens, it happens."

Indeed, Ovechkin very nearly didn't get a chance to get to No. 499.

The Capitals allowed the Rangers to score three third-period goals to erase a 2-0 lead that included a power-play goal by Ovechkin in the first period.

But trailing 3-2 and with Washington netminder Braden Holtby on the bench for an extra attacker, center Nicklas Backstrom tied the game with 5.7 seconds left, banging a rebound of a Justin Williams shot past Lundqvist.

Then, in overtime, defenseman Nate Schmidt somehow managed to thwart Ranger forward Rick Nash who had an open net, getting his stick on Nash's stick before Nash could score the winner. Ovechkin then swooped up the loose puck and went the length of the ice to score the winner.

"Great save by Schmidt with the stick there on Nash. And once Ovie got the puck -- we've seen that a couple of times when he has that look when he touches the puck, that it was going to end up in the back of the net," Washington head coach Barry Trotz said.

"He's a difference-maker when he gets that look. We'll take it," he said.

Ovechkin has now scored 20 times against Lundqvist, more than any other NHL netminder.

"When he comes down the wing like that and cuts in, you just try to be in good position," Lundqvist said. "You don't really see the puck when he shoots it through the legs like that. He's done it a lot of times. He's pretty good at it," the Ranger goaltender added.

Backstrom has, like Ovechkin, played his entire career with Washington and still marvels at how the big winger rises to the occasion.

"That was nice," Backstrom said. "You don't see maybe a highlight goal every game, but I mean it's moments like this he just shows up and can't really do anything about it, I guess. It's just amazing."

Backstrom has played on the same line as Ovechkin for much of the time the two have been in the league.

Ovechkin is among the quickest NHL players to reach the edge of one of hockey's time-honored scoring marks.

Only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy and Brett Hull scored 500 goals in fewer than 800 games.

Phil Esposito scored his 500th in his 803rd game.

Saturday marked Ovechkin's 800th NHL game. Since entering the league in 2005-06, Ovechkin has scored 147 more goals and collected 46 more points than any other player.

Like Ovechkin's teammates, Trotz said he is hoping Ovechkin can deliver the milestone goal at home.

"I think we talked about this when he was chasing Fedorov's record," Trotz said.

"Our fans, the people have supported him for so, so long, they've seen a lot of his goals and a lot of his celebrations -- it would only be fitting if he could get it done at home," the coach said. "So he's got a chance to do that tomorrow. I don't think he's nervous about it or anything like that. I think he was more nervous about chasing Fedorov down."