If Alex Ovechkin wasn’t already a viable Hart Trophy candidate, nights like these should make his case pretty much undeniable. He carved up another bit of history on Black Friday, generating the 28th hat trick of his career (including his 117th game-winning goal). Those 28 hat tricks tie Ovechkin for sixth all-time with Bobby Hull and Marcel Dionne.
Yet, the 2021-22 season isn’t just about history with Ovechkin. He’s keeping up with the best of the best, and Ovechkin’s hat trick helped the Capitals beat the Panthers 4-3.
Ovechkin tied for sixth all-time with 28 hat tricks; Capitals beat Panthers
Perhaps at some point, the focus will boil down to Ovechkin methodically chasing Wayne Gretzky’s 894 goals record. Maybe people will grumble a bit at Ovechkin milking power-play goal after PPG from his “office.”
Right now, though? Ovechkin is defying that notion. Just look at how Ovechkin scored his three goals on his way to his 28th hat trick.
- The first wasn’t his typical one-timer from his “office.” Instead, Ovechkin scored on a rebound from that general neighborhood.
- 56 seconds later, Ovechkin scored his second goal of the night in transition on a bit of snapper. You can watch the first two goals here:
- Finally, Ovechkin completed the hat trick by beating Sergei Bobrovsky after sneaking in front of the net. (Watch that in the video above the headline.)
Remarkably, only four of Ovechkin’s 18 goals this season have been PPG. Really, it’s frightening to ponder a scenario where Ovechkin slows down thanks to the rigors of an 82-game season, only to make up the difference by scoring in his more typical way.
[See where the Capitals stand in the PHT Power Rankings]
At this point, are you willing to bet against much of anything when it comes to Alex Ovechkin and scoring? You don’t even need to limit it to just Ovechkin and goals.
Ovechkin’s 18 goals through 21 games this season are the most by a player in year 17 or later through 21 season games in NHL history. His 36 points pass Wayne Gretzky for the most points during that span in NHL history. #ALLCAPS
— Did Ovechkin Score? (@DidOviScore_8) November 27, 2021
It could take a while for Ovechkin to reach fifth all-time in hat tricks.
5. Phil Esposito: 32 hat tricks in 18 seasons
6 (tied). Ovechkin (28 hat tricks, 17 seasons and counting), Hull (28 in 16 seasons), and Dionne (28 in 18).
(In case you’re wondering, Ovechkin generated one playoff hat trick. Yes, that’s when Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby pulled off dueling hat tricks.)
Speaking of Esposito, Ovechkin is only one game-winning goal (117) behind Esposito (118) for third all-time in GWG.
Overall, Ovechkin sits at 748 goals in 1,218 regular-season games. Could Ovechkin pass Jaromir Jagr for third all-time by the end of the season? Ovechkin already has 18 goals (and 31 points) in just 21 games this season.
- Wayne Gretzky – 894 goals.
- Gordie Howe – 801 goals.
- Jaromir Jagr – 766 goals.
- Alex Ovechkin – 748 goals.
- Brett Hull – 741 goals.
- Marcel Dionne – 731 goals.
Um, Ovechkin probably won’t reach Gordie Howe this season, though, right? RIGHT?
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.