Serenaded by chants of “We want 50,” Ovechkin wrapped up his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the league’s top goal scorer and came one goal short of his eighth 50-goal season. Ovechkin, 32, scored for the third consecutive game. He is the oldest player to lead the NHL in goals since Phil Esposito in 1974-75 at age 33.
Ovechkin’s pursuit of 50 goals injected life into a game lacking some intensity, with the Capitals and Devils already in the postseason and looking eager to get the playoffs underway. The Russian superstar attempted 18 shots and got eight on net.
“Effort was there, and you can see I’m ready for playoffs in pretty good shape,” Ovechkin said after playing 6:04 of the final 8:10. “Still have a pretty good chance at the end. It is what it is. Whatever. The most important thing ahead of us, and second season right now starts in a couple days.”
Though 50 is a nice round number, teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov, who assisted on goal No. 48, said he doesn’t think missing that benchmark means anything to Ovechkin.
“We look for him a little bit more than usually, but I don’t know,” Kuznetsov said. “I don’t think he’s sad about he didn’t get 50, but 49 is still a good number.”
By beating the Devils in regulation, the Metropolitan Division-champion Capitals ensured they wouldn’t face New Jersey in the first round of the playoffs.
Playing without MVP front-runner Taylor Hall, New Jersey fell to the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. The Devils will open on the road against the Atlantic Division winner — either the Boston Bruins or the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.