The 37-year-old superstar scored in second period, giving him 786 goals with Washington, but Andrew Copp had a go-ahead goal with 3:50 left to help the Detroit Red Wings beat the Capitals 3-1 on Thursday night.
“It’s pretty cool,” Ovechkin said. “It’s a great accomplishment.”
Howe played for the Red Wings from 1946 to 1971, and Ovechkin’s milestone goal was scored on the same end of the rink that the Hall of Famer’s retired No. 9 jersey hangs in the rafters.
“I wish it could’ve been in a winning effort,” Washington coach Peter Laviolette said.
Howe retired with an NHL record 801 goals — mostly scored with the Red Wings — and Wayne Gretzky broke the mark, finishing with a league-record 894 goals. Howe died in 2016 at age of 88.
Detroit’s Lucas Raymond pulled the Red Wings into a 1-all tie late in the second period on a power play. Copp scored his first goal in his 10th game with the Red Wings late in the third off Adam Erne's behind-the-net assist. Dylan Larkin added an empty-net goal in the final minute to seal the victory.
“We controlled what we could control, and that’s our effort," Copp said. “We worked hard for second chances. We had the willingness to get in front of shots.
“We battled and made the kind of desperation-type plays you need in that kind of game."
Detroit's Ville Husso made 33 saves.
“They played a good, hard game in front of me and blocked a lot of shots," he said. “That makes my night pretty easy, especially with the great kill at the end."
Darcy Kuemper stopped 23 shots for the Capitals, who are 1-1-2 in one-goal games.
“We’ve been in every game,” Kuemper said. “We’re giving ourselves a chance and that’s what you want to do. If we keep doing that, outcomes will start coming our way.”
RED WINGS REUNION
The Red Wings celebrated the 25th anniversary of their 1997 team winning the Stanley Cup, welcoming back players and coaches that helped the franchise end a 42-year championship drought.
Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman and Cup-winning goaltender Mike Vernon dropped the ceremonial first puck.
ON D IN THE D
The Red Wings' top priority was to get better on defense this season and so far, so good. Only Montreal gave up more goals than Detroit last season, and first-year coach Derek Lalonde has helped the team improve enough to rank in the middle of the pack.
“When we are only giving up nine or 10 chances, it gives us our best chance to succeed," Lalonde said. “But we still weren’t very good with the puck. A full-strength Washington lineup would have taken advantage of that, but they are depleted just like we are."
The banged-up Capitals put John Carlson, Beck Malenstyn and T.J. Oshie on injured reserve and they joined Nicklas Backstrom, Carl Hagelin, Connor Brown and Tom Wilson.
“We’re missing a lot of guys,” Washington defenseman Marin Fehervary said. “It’s not easy playing without those names.”
Detroit C Michael Rasmussen returned from a two-game suspension for high-sticking. ... Washington's Evgeny Kuznetsov had the assist on Ovechkin's goal, setting him up with a cross-ice pass. ... Red Wings C Oskar Sundqvist (upper body) was scratched for a fourth straight game.
Capitals: Host Arizona on Saturday.
Red Wings: Host the New York Islanders on Saturday.
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