NEW YORK -- In a season that has already seen Alex Ovechkin become the highest-scoring Russian of all-time, the dynamic captain of the Washington Capitals is now within three goals of the magic 500-goal plateau.
Ovechkin notched number 497 of his Hall of Fame career Thursday night against the New York Islanders and has a chance this weekend to become the first Russian to score 500 with both a matinee Saturday against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden -- where he has scored 14 times in his career -- and Sunday night back in Washington, D.C. against the Ottawa Senators.
We caught up with Ovechkin after the team's practice at MSG on Friday.
Scott Burnside: 500 goals. I hear that's going to be a big deal. Do you get tired of talking about it? You've had a lot of this this year leading up to passing Sergei Fedorov, now to get close to 500.
Ovechkin: Sooner or later it's going to happen. I still have lots of time to do it, and of course it's going to be a huge privilege to be put in a category with those names and be first Russian to reach that kind of milestone.
Burnside: How important is that to you? To be the first Russian to reach this milestone?
Ovechkin: Obviously it's going to be a huge honor and big thing for me, the organization, for all my family.
Burnside: Are people coming from Russia to watch this? Is there an entourage now that follows you around?
Ovechkin: Obviously the people follow me, all my friends text me all the time, if we have a good game or a bad game.
Burnside: Do you hear from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin or Slava Fetisov or Sergei Fedorov? Do you hear from other people like that?
Ovechkin: Yeah. I just talked to Feds a couple of weeks ago and he said congrats. Somebody going to beat my record someday. That's why records are records. I don't think somebody going to beat [Wayne] Gretzky record, but then hockey was different.
Burnside: Do you remember your first goal?
Ovechkin: Of course. Against Columbus.
Burnside: I ask this because you mentioned Gretzky. He seems to have a memory; when you talk to him he remembers so much of the details of when he played. Do you remember lots of your goals?
Ovechkin: Yeah. Of course. If you watch them all, you get to remember.
Burnside: Does it make you nervous getting close to 500?
Ovechkin: No. I think at this stage you knew it was going to happen. And right now it's not my first year when you reach 39 goals, and you say, I need 50 goals. It's going to stay in your mind. This is like, again, half the season and you're going to score three in 40 games.
Burnside: That would be a story if you don't.
Burnside: Do you keep stuff? Do you have the puck from the first goal?
Ovechkin: Of course. I give it to trainers. Like my sticks when I make some milestones they make a number and I still have all that stuff.
Burnside: If I went to your house -- and I know you've never invited me -- but if I went to your house, do you have a trophy case or have them on a bookshelf?
Ovechkin: Just in my basement all my trophies, all my boxes, all the sticks involved in my milestones. Because it's memory. I know my kids going to enjoy it. There's going to be a museum probably after I'm going to be retired. It's something that you're never going to buy in your life, it's your work ethic, it's memories.
Burnside: Could you have imagined when you started, that first goal in Columbus, 'OK, I've got 500 in me, I've got 600 in me?'
Ovechkin: Well, no. You never know how your career is going to be obviously. Of course you want to be good, but you never know how the team's going to play, how the team's going to treat you, how's the relationship going to be with the coaches, with your teammates and all that kind of stuff. I got lucky. I've been all years with great coaches. They teach me, even (Dale) Hunter, he teach me a lot. I appreciate him. I played the right wing with (Adam) Oates. It give me more stuff on the ice where I can do things. And with Bruce [Boudreau] and Glennie [Hanlon], all the coaches give me something and they trust me at some points. But you have to deserve this trust obviously. I just got lucky, I guess.
Burnside: Does it feel different when you score now? When you score so many times, like last night when that goal goes in you know it's 497, does it feel different?
Ovechkin: No, you just want more and more. You're just hungry to score goals. I'm hungry to score goals. I think if you're hungry to score goals, you're hungry to play hockey; it's motivation. I'm always happy to be at the rink. Sometimes it's the stuff and it's just a practice, but without that kind of stuff you're not going to be able to do that kind of stuff [during games]. Of course when you play it's fun time. You just enjoy the crowd, even [if] they're booing you or they're cheering for you. It's just a dream come true.
Burnside: OK, two Saturday, one Sunday? How's it going to go down?
Ovechkin: It's good. It's going to be good to have one goal away for my fans and my family and it's going to be cool.