GR8NESS: OVI’S CHASE FOR 700: As Alex Ovechkin approaches 700 career NHL goals, PHT is going to examine all aspects of his goal-scoring prowess. We’ll break down and provide context for his amazing stats, project if he can top Wayne Gretzky’s record of 894, and take a look at his most important goals.
In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we keep the focus on Washington Capitals forward and his pursuit of 700 NHL goals.
We will be taking a look at the top-10 goals of his career (so far) with a focus on the brilliant and the important.
We are also not limiting this to just regular season goals. Playoff goals are also included, even though they do not technically count toward his pursuit of 700 goals.
Which goals do we like the best?
To the rankings!
SIMPLY THE BEST
1. “The Goal.” Even before he played a game in the NHL everyone that followed the sport had an idea as to what he could be capable of. He was one of the most anticipated prospects since Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, and was so sought after that the Florida Panthers attempted to draft him a year early arguing that because of leap years he should have been eligible for the 2003 NHL draft (obviously it did not work). He wasted no time in making his presence felt in the NHL, scoring 50 goals and 100 points in his rookie season. That rookie season was highlighted by the signature goal of Ovechkin’s career when he did this against the Arizona Coyotes.
It is not just the absurdity of the goal that puts it at the top of the list. It’s the fact that this is the goal and the play that really started to put him on the NHL’s map as the next great superstar.
The opposing coach in Arizona that night? None other than Wayne Gretzky, the player whose all-time goals record Ovechkin is chasing down.
2. Starting the postseason comeback. This one checks both boxes for brilliance and importance. April 24, 2009, Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the New York Rangers. The Capitals entered the game trailing the series 3-1 and facing elimination. They would go on to win the next three games to advance. During that important Game 5 win, Ovechkin did this.
This turned out to be the Capitals’ first postseason series win with Ovechkin.
3. Spin-o-rama pass to himself. This goal does not get enough attention, and I almost thought about putting it at the very top. Ovechkin passes the puck to himself off the boards while doing a spin-o-rama, then beats Canadiens goalie Carey Price while getting hauled down and falling to the ice.
4. Dangling the Devils during the 2014 season. A random mid-December game against the New Jersey Devils provided one of the most electrifying goals of Ovechkin’s career. After picking up a loose puck at his own blue line, Ovechkin went 1-on-2 against Jon Merril and Travis Zajac, split them ease, and then effortlessly beat Cory Schneider on the back hand.
[NHL on NBCSN: Ovechkin’s chase for 700th goal continues Monday at 7 p.m. ET]
5. The Hot Stick Goal. The goal itself isn’t anything out of the ordinary for Ovechkin. Of the 698 goals he has scored in his career probably probably 150 of them (or more) have looked just like this: A quick shot off the rush the just flat out beats an opposing goal. But what makes this one such a top goal is that it was his 50th goal of the season (third time for him) and was followed with his famous “hot stick” celebration.
THE IMPORTANT AND MILESTONE GOALS
6. Starting the championship run. During the 2017-18 playoffs Ovechkin and the Capitals finally cleared the biggest postseason hurdle: Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. While Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s Game 6 overtime series-clincher is the one that Capitals fans will remember, this is the goal that helped set the stage for it. Game 3, in Pittsburgh, with series tied 1-1, Ovechkin scored the game-winning goal with 67 seconds to play in regulation to give the Capitals the series lead and help swing the series in their favor. It was a pretty awesome goal, too, as he batted the puck in out of mid-air after the initial shot hit the post. He has never scored an overtime playoff goal, but this is just as good.
7. Setting the tone in Game 7. Beating the Penguins seemed to lift the weight of the world off the Capitals’ shoulders and gave them an opportunity to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning (by overcoming a 3-2 series deficit) in the Eastern Conference Final. They won Game 7, on the road, with Ovechkin setting the tone just one minute into the game with a signature goal from his office.
8. Dueling hat tricks. The best and most memorable head-to-head game of the Ovechkin-Crosby era came during the second round of the 2009 playoffs when both players recorded hat tricks in a 4-3 Capitals win. Ovechkin completed his hat trick (with the eventual game-winning goal) on this shot.
9. 500th goal. One of his big milestone goals scored in the most fitting way for him: On the power play, from the circle, standing there all by himself. The way it is meant to be.
10. 1,000th point. Ovechkin entered the 1,000 point club in style with a goal against Pittsburgh, scoring just 35 seconds into the game.
• By the Numbers: Ovechkin’s 698 NHL goals
• Stunning Numbers as Alex Ovechkin closes in on 700 goals
• Can Alex Ovechkin break Wayne Gretzky’s record of 894 goals?
• My Favorite Goal: Ovechkin scores ‘The Goal’