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Ovechkin ignites scoring streak after trip to Dubai

Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) passes the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Montreal Canadiens, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Alex Ovechkin, the Russian superstar and captain of the Washington Capitals, has found his groove after a challenging start to the NHL season. Following a family trip to Dubai during the team's bye week and the All-Star break, Ovechkin has managed to score in all four games since his return, extending his streak to five consecutive games - his longest in almost three years. This resurgence comes at a crucial time for Ovechkin, reigniting the possibility of him surpassing Wayne Gretzky's career goal-scoring record, a feat that once seemed unattainable.

With just eight goals in his first 43 games of the season, Ovechkin's recent surge has brought his total to 13 goals, positioning him 60 goals behind Gretzky's record of 894. The hockey world is not surprised by Ovechkin's resurgence, as he has set the gold standard for goal scoring in NHL history. While Gretzky remains the benchmark as the 'Great One,' Ovechkin's remarkable achievements throughout his career cannot be understated.

Vancouver defenseman Ian Cole, who has frequently faced Ovechkin over the past decade, expressed his admiration, stating, 'What Ovi's done in the time period that he's played is absolutely remarkable. His ability to continue to be a force in this league, especially in goal scoring, is amazing. His longevity is incredible.'

At 38 years old, Ovechkin is demonstrating that he can still produce at a high level. Last season, he became the first player in NHL history to record 40 goals in a season 13 times, displaying his exceptional goal-scoring prowess even in his mid- and late-30s, reminiscent of Phil Esposito's performance in the 1970s.

He now has 13 goals this season, 60 back of passing Gretzky's record.
Ovechkin has scored in all four games to extend his streak to five.
Ovechkin is back to producing like previous years, playing at a high level.
The Capitals averaged just 2.3 goals before Ovechkin's goal streak started.
Since the streak, the Capitals are scoring 3.6 goals per game.
Ovechkin's well-rounded style is contributing to team success on both ends.
This is Ovechkin's first five-game goal streak since March 2021.
The Capitals are struggling but hopeful for a playoff run with Ovechkin's resurgence.
His family trip to Dubai during the break has possibly rejuvenated him mentally.
Coach Carbery believes the break has helped Ovechkin come back refreshed and ready.

Capitals coach Spencer Carbery has noticed Ovechkin's renewed energy and determination, stating, 'I feel like he's even skating a little bit more. I feel like there's a little bit more jump in his step.' Prior to the break, Ovechkin seemed to be lacking some of his usual spark. However, his recent goal-scoring spree has injected new life into the Capitals, who have struggled to produce offense throughout the season.

Before Ovechkin's goal streak began, the Capitals were only averaging 2.3 goals per game, ranking third-lowest in the league. Since then, they have increased their scoring output to an average of 3.6 goals per game. According to Carbery, Ovechkin's resurgence is a positive step for the team, stating, 'These are positive things, and you can feel him gaining more confidence as each one goes in and as he gets on a little bit of a roll.'

Teammate T.J. Oshie echoed Carbery's sentiment, acknowledging Ovechkin's contribution beyond just scoring goals. Oshie pointed out that Ovechkin is now focused on playing a well-rounded game, making defensive contributions that lead to offensive opportunities for the team. Oshie emphasized the importance of all five players on the ice being engaged defensively and praised Ovechkin for setting an example in that regard.

For Ovechkin, it's not just about scoring goals; it's about playing smart hockey and helping the team succeed. He emphasized his commitment to his role, stating, 'I try to do my job and just play the right style of game and help the team to win.'

Despite Ovechkin's scoring resurgence, the Capitals have been struggling as a team. They have lost six of their last seven games since the All-Star break, and there is speculation that they may become sellers ahead of the March 8 trade deadline. However, Ovechkin's return to vintage form has infused the team with hope, as they aim to make a strong push for a playoff spot.

Teammate Darcy Kuemper recognized the impact of Ovechkin's scoring streak, stating, 'We're all happy to see it. He's hot right now, and we know he scores goals. Having him on this streak is really helping us.' Kuemper's sentiment reflects the team's sentiment as they look to leverage Ovechkin's current hot streak for sustained success.

Carbery believes that Ovechkin's performance following his break in Dubai is not a coincidence. He attributes Ovechkin's mental rejuvenation during the break to his improved play in the second half of the season. Carbery believes that stepping away from the game and not dwelling on hockey or the Capitals has allowed Ovechkin to return refreshed and ready for the stretch run.

As Ovechkin continues to make strides towards Gretzky's goal-scoring record, the hockey world anxiously awaits his next move. With his recent surge, the possibility of Ovechkin etching his name in the record books seems more attainable than ever. Whether or not he accomplishes this feat, one thing is certain - Ovechkin's legacy in the NHL as one of the greatest goal scorers of all time is already etched in stone.

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