Ovechkin returns from virus with OT goal for NHL milestone

Washington (AFP) –


Washington's Alex Ovechkin scored 28 seconds into overtime in his return from a four-game Covid-19 absence to reach an NHL milestone Saturday in the Capitals' 4-3 victory over Boston.

The 35-year-old Russian star netted the game-winning marker on a wrist shot for his 708th career NHL goal, matching Mike Gartner for seventh on the league's all-time scoring list.

Gartner, a Canadian, spent most of his 19-year career with the Capitals in the 1980s. The next player beyond him in NHL goals is former 1970s Boston star Phil Esposito on 717.

Ovechkin, the Capitals captain, was playing in his first game after missing Washington's past four contests due to NHL COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

"For me it was my first game after a 10-day break, so it was kind of weird," Ovechkin said. "But it's nice to get a win."

Ovechkin and three Russian teammates were sent onto the Covid-19 list and the Capitals were fined $100,000 by the NHL for "social interactions among team members who were in close contact and who were not wearing face coverings" after players reportedly gathered without masks in a hotel room.

The Capitals played their fifth game without forward Evgeny Kuznetsov and goaltender Ilya Samsonov, who remain in the COVID-19 protocol. Defenseman Dmitry Orlov was cleared to return but not in the lineup.

Washington improved to 6-0 with three overtime losses for 15 points, matching Toronto for the league best in the early season.

Vitek Vanecek made 40 saves for the Capitals.

It was Washington defenseman Zdeno Chara's first game against his former team.

The Bruins, 5-2-2, saw their four-game win streak ended but welcomed back forward David Pastrnak, who had an assist and played more than 20 minutes in his season debut after having hip surgery in September.

Ovechkin and Pastrnak shared last season's NHL goal scoring title with 48 each.