CALGARY – Alex Ovechkin scored twice, including the game-winner, in a 5-4 win over the Flames, tying him for third with Jaromir Jagr on the NHL’s all-time goal-scoring list.

He did it in the same rink in which Jagr scored his 766th — and final — NHL goal as a 45-year-old member of the Flames in 2017.

“Obviously, it’s always nice to hear those kind of milestones, numbers,” said Ovechkin, who also moved one behind Gordie Howe’s record of 121 game winners. “It’s pretty big, obviously, and how I always said, being with those names and in this company, it’s a pretty cool moment.”

The milestone goal was scored into an empty net with the Capitals clinging to a 4-3 lead over the red-hot Flames.

After Elias Lindholm scored his second of the game with 40 seconds left to bring the hosts within one, Ovechkin thought he had a chance to eclipse Jagr when another shot at the empty net was stopped by Lindholm with two seconds remaining.

“It’s OK, I’ll take it tomorrow,” smiled Ovechkin, who will face the Oilers in Edmonton Wednesday night.

“I was hoping to get the second one, but it’s OK.”

Ovechkin has been under an intense spotlight since his native Russia invaded Ukraine Feb. 24, prompting a small portion of the Saddledome crowd to boo him every time he touched the puck early in a game the Flames led 2-0 midway through the evening. Ovechkin has been outspoken about his support for Russian President Vladimir Putin in the past, and Ovechkin has a photo of himself with Putin as his profile picture on Instagram.

Earlier in the day Flames head coach Darryl Sutter was asked if he expected a rough reception for No. 8.

“No I don’t,” said Sutter. “We have an awesome Russian player on our team too (Nikita Zadorov). Our players are our players and they’re our family and we help them. That’s what we do.”

Following mounting requests for Ovechkin to speak again on a war he commented on shortly after its onset, the Capitals put out a statement earlier on Tuesday.

“Monumental Sports & Entertainment and the Washington Capitals join the National Hockey League in condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the loss of innocent life,” it read.

“We urge and hope for a peaceful resolution as quickly as possible. The Capitals also stand in full support of our Russian players and their families overseas. We realize they are being put in a difficult situation and stand by to offer our assistance to them and their families.”

The reception in Edmonton, where the Oilers are wearing decals of Ukrainian flags on their helmets due to the large Ukrainian population, is expected to be chillier.  

A disjointed opening period saw Lindholm open the scoring before Adam Ruzicka took a great pass from linemate Andrew Mangiapane to put the Flames up by a pair. 

Conor Sheary and Ovechkin scored three minutes apart to tie the game with seven minutes left in the second when Ovechkin followed up a massive hit on Chris Tanev by sniping his 35th of the year past Dan Vladar.

The Flames squandered an early third period lead on a goal by Oliver Kylington to surrender three straight in what appeared to have plenty to do with the fatigue associated with the Flames “borderline illegal” schedule of late.

“I didn’t like a couple of goals,” said Sutter when asked about the play of Vladar, who made 22 saves.

“When you’re playing back-to-backs and playing three in four, things like that, you need some big saves. That’s going to happen against a team that’s got a lot of ammo.”

Including a man who seems destined to finish ahead of Wayne Gretzky as the game’s most prolific goal scorer.

“He’s a goal scorer,” confirmed Sutter, well aware Ovechkin was playing in his 1,000th game alongside linemate Nicklas Backstrom.

“The goal he scored we turned the puck over and gave it to him, prime time for him, right. That’s what he does. Quite honest, I think he gets a lot of looks from that area right there on the power play too, and I think our (penalty) killers did a good job against him.”

Sutter re-jigged his lines once again in an effort to spread minutes out as evenly as possible during a stretch in which the Flames are playing six games in nine nights.

There are bound to be lapses, like the Flames’ third period.

“This time of year it’s a mental game and you have to be sharp mentally to prepare and be ready to go every night,” said Kylington, whose club can take solace in the fact it just lost its first home game in regulation in 14 outings.

“We have to reset and recover and have a good game on Thursday (against Tampa). It’s as simple as that.”

Johnny Gaudreau collided knee-on-knee with Tom Wilson in the dying seconds of the game and got up slowly before labouring off the ice.

The Flames offered no update on his status, which may remain a mystery until Thursday, as the Flames have Wednesday off.


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