Alex Ovechkin recorded his 30th goal of the season in the Capitals’ 3-2 win over the Flyers on Sunday, joining another exclusive group in NHL history.
Ovechkin redirected a Karl Alzner point shot and beat Flyers goalie Steve Mason late in the second period, becoming just the third player all-time to score at least 30 goals in each of his first 11 NHL seasons.
“That ran through my mind,” said Alzner who picked up his 99th career NHL point with an assist on the Ovechkin goal. “It’s 30 goals every single season he’s played and that’s phenomenal. It just goes to show how deadly of a goal-scorer that he is. When he’s not in the lineup, we really miss him; you can clearly see that.”
The Capitals improved to a franchise-best 38-9-4 (80 points) with the win, including 22-4-0 when Ovechkin scores.
“It’s not surprising,” coach Barry Trotz said of Ovechkin’s feat. “He’ll probably do it another time or two before he’s done. It’s fantastic and consistency is part of greatness.”
After Ovechkin, the longest active streak of consecutive 30-goal seasons is two (shared by six players) and none of those streaks originated during the players’ rookie seasons.
Only Hall of Famers Mike Gartner (15) and Wayne Gretzky (13) recorded more 30-goal seasons to begin their NHL careers than Ovechkin.
Gartner’s streak was snapped during the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season when he was limited to 12 goals in 38 games with the Maple Leafs. The 2012-13 NHL work stoppage could have ended Ovechkin’s streak of 30-goal seasons, but the eventual MVP that year finished with 32 goals in the 48-game campaign.
Gretzky’s streak of 30-goal seasons was snapped in 1992-93, when injuries limited The Great One to 16 goals in 45 games.
Ovechkin’s 30 goals this season are tops in the Eastern Conference and leave him just two behind Chicago’s Patrick Kane for the overall NHL lead. Ovechkin is looking to become the first player to win four straight goal-scoring titles in more than 30 years (Gretzky 1981-1985).
Ovechkin is also 20 goals shy of his becoming just the third player with at least seven 50-goal seasons (Gretzky and Mike Bossy have nine each).