Capitals – Rangers about Ovechkin passing Dionne, not Tom Wilson

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Like it or not, Tom Wilson was on the tip of many tongues heading into Wednesday’s Rangers – Capitals season-opener. Ultimately, goals win games, not knuckle-sandwiches. Maybe Alex Ovechkin‘s big game (and the Capitals’ 5-1 win) can serve as such a reminder for a Rangers team hoping to take a step toward contending.

Ovechkin passes Dionne for fifth all-time in goals

Heading into Wednesday’s Rangers – Capitals game, it wasn’t even clear if Alex Ovechkin could play. Naturally, he didn’t just play — Ovechkin starred.

Not surprisingly, Ovechkin and the Capitals did their greatest damage against the Rangers on the power play. At first, though, it was Ovechkin notching assists.

Just 4:39 into the first period, Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov collected assists on a T.J. Oshie power-play goal. About midway through the second, Ovechkin and Kuznetsov also assisted on a Justin Schultz PPG.

Then, in the third period, Ovechkin returned to goal-scoring mode. First, Ovechkin tied Marcel Dionne for fifth all-time in goals with number 731. (Yes, it was on the power play.)

Next, Ovechkin scored goal 732 (technically) shorthanded, moving all alone to fifth in NHL history. Watch Ovechkin pass Dionne for fifth-all time with goal 732 in the video above this post’s headline.

Dionne wished Ovechkin the best, noting that he’ll likely pass Brett Hull (fourth, 741 goals) soon. It’s a fun watch, as Dionne discusses Ovechkin’s pursuit of Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky, too.

Take a look at where Ovechkin sits among the NHL’s all-time goal scorers after goal 732:

  1. Wayne Gretzky – 894 goals.
  2. Gordie Howe – 801 goals.
  3. Jaromir Jagr – 766 goals.
  4. Brett Hull – 741 goals.
  5. Alex Ovechkin – 732 goals.
  6. Marcel Dionne – 731 goals.

Heck of a way to show that Ovechkin’s not slowing in his pursuit of Gretzky’s record. At least not yet.

Quiet night on the Rangers vs. Tom Wilson front

Did the Rangers focus on anti-Tom-Wilson-weaponry this offseason? If so, they didn’t want to admit it. (Wilson doesn’t want to either, it seems.)

Either way, Tom Wilson wasn’t much of a focus in the Rangers – Capitals season-opener. That’s true even though Lead Wilson Deterrent Ryan Reaves ended up being available.

Perhaps this 5-1 game hit the sweet spot: not competitive enough to get truly nasty, not embarrassing enough to set off a series of fights?

For those wanting Tom Wilson – Rangers fireworks, they’ll need to wait quite a while for the next chance. The two teams don’t face off again until Feb. 24 in Washington.

Maybe Ovechkin will be breathing down Jagr’s neck (766 goals) by then?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.