BRATISLAVA – Alexander Ovechkin is just 25, and yet the explosive left winger is preparing to represent Russia for the seventh time at the Worlds. En route to four tournament medals, he’s already built up what would be a lifetime of memories for most players.
Let’s take a look back at some of the highs and lows in this tournament for the Washington Capitals superstar, who’s been battling to maintain his reputation as the world’s best player since 2010.
Ovechkin scores his first World Championship goal ever on April 25, 2004 in a 6-2 tournament-opening romp over Denmark in Ostrava, Czech Republic. The 18-year-old’s victim is netminder Jan Jensen, and it is Russia’s fifth tally of the night. IIHF correspondent Peter Westermark describes the goal as coming on “a lightning-quick move to the middle followed by a masked, high shot.” The assists go to veterans Maxim Sushinski and Dmitri Yushkevich.
In the 2005 bronze medal game against Sweden on May 15 in Vienna, Austria, Ovechkin spectacularly dances through hulking Tre Kronor blueliner Mattias Norström to score Russia’s 4-2 goal at 1:33 of the third period. It’s the eventual winner. The Russians go on to capture third place with a 6-3 win.
In 2006, Ovechkin is named to the tournament all-star team for the first time despite Russia’s May 18 quarter-final exit versus the Czech Republic in a 4-3 loss on Zbynek Irgl’s goal at 7:58 of OT. He finishes with six goals and three assists in seven games.
Playing on home ice in Moscow, Ovechkin receives a five-minute major and a game misconduct and is suspended for one game for a hit on Swiss forward Valentin Wirz on May 8, 2007. The hit occurs as Wirz is rushing up ice and Ovechkin is stepping out of the penalty box. Ovechkin states that the blow was unintentional. This proves to be an off-tournament overall for the Great 8, who winds up with just one goal and one assist in eight games as the host Russians settle for bronze.
Ovechkin draws two assists, including one on Ilya Kovalchuk’s overtime game-winner, as Russia rallies from a two-goal deficit to defeat host Canada 5-4 for gold in Quebec City on May 18, 2008. It’s Russia’s first title since 1993. With a personal high of six goals and six assists at the event, Ovechkin is also named to the tournament all-star team for the second time.
Despite looking tired in the wake of Russia’s 7-3 Olympic loss to Canada and a disappointing first-round defeat against the Jaroslav Halak-backstopped Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Ovechkin shows up to play for his country in Germany 2010. Unfortunately, his overall diligent performance – five goals and one assist in nine games – is overshadowed by an accidental collision with teammate Sergei Fedorov late in the second period of the May 23 gold medal game versus the Czech Republic. While Ovechkin and Fedorov struggle to their feet, the Czechs race down the ice and captain Tomas Rolinek scores the 2-0 goal, the eventual game-winner.