Alexander Ovechkin strikes again. And this time, it’s number 600.
The tally makes Ovi just the twentieth man to post as many goals during his illustrious NHL career.
The goal came at even strength 3:53 into the second period against the Winnipeg Jets. Ovechkin threw multiple shots at goaltender Connor Hellebuyck during a net-front scrum and finally put his third attempt home.
All 18,277 in attendance at the Capital One Arena rose to their feet and applauded their franchise player.
“Obviously it’s a really amazing feeling,” Ovechkin said between the second and third periods.
“He [Hellebuyck] made an amazing save, but I got lucky and the puck came to me and I just had to put it in.”
During the quick interview Ovechkin also mentioned that his wife flew in town from Moscow because she had a premonition he would reach 600 on Monday night. His parents were watching back home in Russia.
“Finally it’s over and now we’re going to talk about hockey and not about numbers,” Ovechkin said.
Ovechkin sat at 598 goals entering Monday night’s game and hit 599 on the power play in the first period with a wrist shot from his favourite spot high on the left faceoff circle – a place where he’s scored so many throughout the years.
“When you score big numbers, you have to relax and enjoy the time,” he continued.
“Tomorrow it’s back to work.”
To put Ovechkin’s accomplishment into perspective, at 32 years old, the Moscow native is the third youngest to reach 600 goals. Only Wayne Gretzky (894) and Mario Lemieux (690) were younger when they reached the milestone.
Furthermore, Ovi is only the fourth man to reach this point before 1,000 games. He did it in his 990th NHL contest.
Ovechkin becomes the fourth foreign-born player to join this elite club and the only Russian-born player to do so. He joins Jaromir Jagr (766), Teemu Selanne (684) and Jari Kurri (601) as the only foreigners to score more than 600 during their NHL career.
In an open letter published on NHL.com, translated from Russian, his parents Mikhail and Tatyana wrote:
Your 600 goals are a great joy. The NHL is not a competition for middle schoolers, but the best league in the world. We are all so happy for you. Our whole big family, all our relatives. This pride is for our son, and for Russia. After all, no other player from the Motherland has even scored 500.
In terms of active players, you guessed it, Ovechkin is the current leader, sitting almost 200 goals ahead of the next closest competitor Sidney Crosby (405).
Ovechkin once again leads the NHL with 42 goals, his ninth season with at least 40 goals. He’s also amassed over 50 goals seven times and more than 60 goals once.
If Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals again this year, he will win his seventh Rocket Richard Trophy, extending his all-time lead in the category.
Ovi signed a 13-year, $124-million dollar extension with the Washington Capitals back in 2008, leaving him three more seasons on the deal. He’ll be 35 when the contract is over, considering he doesn’t sign another extension before it’s termination.
So how many more goals can he score? Well, let’s delve a little deeper into the numbers. Ovechkin is the active leader in goals per game (0.607) – and ranks sixth all-time behind his countryman Pavel Bure in the category (0.623).
Ovechkin is just 10 games short of 1,000 in his career and conservatively he could play another four or five full seasons. The law of diminishing returns says he won’t keep the same goal rate, but even if he did, Ovi would finish his career somewhere between 830 and 860 goals.
Those numbers would better the legendary Gordie Howe (801) and put Ovechkin second all-time behind Gretzky in the hockey record books.
In his career Ovechkin has racked up a ton of goals, attended the All-Star Game eleven times, won three MVP awards, the aforementioned six Rocket Richard trophies and Rookie of the Year honors in 2005/06.
He’s arguably the greatest Russian to ever play in the NHL, yet if you ask him, the accolades lose some of their significance due to his lack of a Stanley Cup Championship.
Yet hope remains. Washington sits atop the Metropolitan Division this season and is set up for another favourable path to the Stanley Cup.
Maybe 2018 is the year Ovi hits 600 and hoists the trophy. While the goals have cemented Ovechkin’s name in the record books, he wants his name etched in the Cup.