Alex Ovechkin has entered the top 10 in the NHL’s all-time goal-scoring leaderboard.
The Russian superstar scored his second consecutive hat trick Saturday during the Washington Capitals’ game against the New York Islanders; in the process, he passed one legend (Mario Lemieux) and tied another (Steve Yzerman) for ninth place on the list with 692 goals.
Ovechkin’s 690th and 691st career goals came against Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov. His first tally of the game came roughly halfway through the first period at Nassau Coliseum thanks to a brilliant two-line pass from center Nicklas Backstrom, who sent Ovechkin behind the Islanders’ defense. ‘The Great Eight’ fired a wrist shot from the slot on his subsequent breakaway to tie Lemieux.
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Even Lemieux — now the principal owner of the Penguins — should be proud of the move Ovechkin executed to pass him. Ovechkin pulled the puck in between New York defenseman Scott Mayfield’s legs on a rush, roped it back in with his stick’s backhand and batted it across the crease.
The shot should have been sent well wide of the Islanders’ net, but it bounced off Ryan Pulock’s skate and past Varlamov’s glove, establishing Ovechkin as one of the top 10 goalscorers in league history.
Ovechkin completed the hat trick with an empty-net goal from neutral ice with just 56 seconds left in regulation to tie Yzerman (692 goals).
Now with eight goals in his last three games, Ovechkin appears primed to keep climbing the all-time leaderboard for the rest of the 2019-20 season. His next goal — which could come as soon as the Capitals’ Jan. 29 game against the Nashville Predators — will give him sole possession of ninth place. The 34-year-old sniper will be ineligible for Washington’s next game — Jan. 27 against the Montreal Canadiens — due to an impending suspension for skipping the upcoming NHL All-Star Game.
Given that he’s now on pace to score a whopping 56 goals this season, Ovechkin will likely pass Mark Messier (694) and Mike Gartner (708) to claim seventh place by the end of the season.
Another 186 tallies stand between Gartner and Wayne Gretzky’s seemingly impossible-to-beat all-time record (894), but if anyone can come close, it’s Ovechkin.
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