After scoring his 802nd goal of his career in a victory over the Winnipeg Jets, Alex Ovechkin is now ranked second all-time in the NHL in terms of goals. Ovechkin still needs to put in some work to catch Wayne Gretzky’s 894-game streak, but he’s already proven he has the endurance to advance in the NHL record books.
On the list of all-time goals, Ovechkin still maintains a sizable lead over Gretzky, but by compiling outrageous totals year after year, Ovechkin has already broken a lot of NHL scoring records.
Ovechkin, one of the most potent power play players in the game’s history, now holds the NHL record for most power play goals with 292. The fact that no one has ever in the past 18 years succeeded in stopping Ovechkin when he has the man advantage is what makes this number so remarkable.
Ovechkin also surpassed Gordie Howe earlier this season for the most goals scored by a single franchise. While Ovechkin has scored all of his goals with the Washington Capitals, Howe has scored 786 goals with the Detroit Red Wings. Ovechkin has managed to stay with Washington in the modern era, in which players seldom spend their entire careers with one team because of the wage cap and free agency. Naturally, few teams would split ways with one of the greatest scorers in NHL history, but don’t tell that to the Edmonton Oilers.
Ovechkin has now eclipsed Gretzky in career road goals with 409 while still trailing Gretzky in total goals. If anything, this proves that Ovechkin will win even when the other team has greater influence over the matchups. There is little doubt that his skill at power plays played a role in that.
Ovechkin also has 25 overtime goals in his career, which is the most in the NHL. Ovechkin has an advantage over players from earlier generations in this, one of the few areas where he does. For the 2015–16 season, the addition of three-on-three overtime has facilitated the success of talented players like him. Due to this, 13 of the top 20 players in terms of overtime goals are still playing.
It took Ovechkin a long time to go to the top of the NHL record books in each of these categories. Ovechkin hasn’t exactly contributed to an era of high scoring in NHL history, and he’s lost a lot of time because of lockouts and seasons that were cut short by pandemics. Ovechkin scores a staggering number of goals every year, however, and is rapidly moving up the history books.
Ovechkin has played in an era with comparatively little goals scored compared to some of his contemporaries in the top tiers of the NHL record books. Ovechkin has played in the highest scoring season in the league, which is currently in its 105th season. Teams are currently averaging 3.17 goals per game in 2022–23, which is the 33rd-lowest average in league history.
Only six of Ovechkin’s prior NHL seasons, in terms of average scoring, are in the top half of the league’s record books. Gretzky, on the other hand, participated in 14 of the league’s top 25 scoring seasons.
Ovechkin has suffered from a number of losses as well. Due to a lockout, the 2004–05 season—which was supposed to be Ovechkin’s debut season—was completely lost. Less than ten years later, Ovechkin missed nearly half of the 2012–13 season because of a partial lockout.
In 2020, when the COVID-19 epidemic broke out, Ovechkin missed even more chances to score. The league’s 2019–20 regular season was shortened by about 12 games, and the 2020–21 campaign consisted of 56 games.
Ovechkin has dropped 155 games as a result of the pandemic and lockouts combined. Ovechkin would have already surpassed Gretzky’s record of 894 goals in his career if he had been able to play those games while scoring at his career average rate.
Ovechkin still has a great chance to end his career as the NHL’s all-time leading scorer, despite numerous circumstances conspiring against him. He has virtually always been among the league leaders in goals, which has allowed him to put himself in this position.
Ovechkin’s 2021–22 season, which was cut short by the pandemic and during which he missed an additional 11 games, was the only one in which he ended with fewer than 32 goals. Ovechkin, who is currently in his 18th NHL season, has reached the 50-goal mark nine times and is on track to do so once more this year.
Ovechkin holds the NHL record with nine Rocket Richard Trophies as the league’s top scorer. From 2013 through 2016, he won it four times in a row, another NHL record. Gretzky would have won it five times throughout the course of his career even though the prize didn’t exist until his last season.
To overtake Gretzky as the NHL’s all-time leading goal scorer, Ovechkin, 37, still needs 93 goals. Ovechkin has already demonstrated that he has the toughness and endurance to accomplish the job, though it will take him at least a few more years to get there.