RUSSELL: History for Alex Ovechkin and hugs for Jay Beagle

Chris Russell
February 06, 2019 - 7:59 am

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports


Tuesday was a night that reminded us all why we love hockey, humanity and hugs. Oh and while we're at it — who doesn't love Alex Ovechkin and Jay Beagle?

Wrapped into one evening, Capitals fans were able to experience all the feelings that made last spring's run to a Stanley Cup extra special. 

A tight 3-2 Caps win over the Vancouver Canucks was most important and much needed. The Caps have now won two of three since the All-Star break and are all alone in second place in the Metropolitan Division, two points behind Barry Trotz's Islanders. 

Once again, there was a wonderful reminder of the team Trotz led to a Stanley Cup, as Jay Beagle made his return to Washington after signing a multi-year deal in Vancouver last July. 

Beagle, one of the most popular Caps players in this era, started the game for the Canucks and was loudly cheered during pre-game warm-ups and a moving video tribute.  

At the end of that tribute, Alex Ovechkin gave Beagle a hug near both benches. One leader to another, even if they now wear different colors. 

Moments after that hug, history was made again by the "Great 8" as Ovechkin became the all-time leading scorer among Russian-born players, passing his friend and former Capital Sergei Fedorov. 

Just three minutes into the game, Ovechkin swooped behind the net with the puck after T.J. Oshie forced a turnover. Ovechkin passed to Nicklas Backstrom, whose shot was saved, but Oshie cleaned up the rebound. 

Ovechkin's assist on the play gave him 1,180 total points (644 goals/536 assists) in 1,054 career games. Fedorov had 483 goals and 696 assists over 1,248 games in his illustrious 18-season NHL career

Ovechkin accomplished his feat in 193 fewer games. "It's pretty big. I appreciate everyone who did all the work with me," Ovechkin told reporters after the game.

The Caps were lousy in the second period after a dominant first frame in which they out-shot Vancouver 18-5. They killed off both Vancouver power plays, which has been an enormous problem. They overcame a penalty shot and hung on for dear life in the final moments to claim a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Beagle and the Canucks. 

Tuesday was a night that proved the magic was back in Capital One Arena. If you were there, you shed a tear. If you watched on TV or listened on 106.7 The Fan, you couldn't help but remember just how special the building and those who play in it have become to a sports community that desperately needed a shot in the arm. 

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