In a season in which he seems to reach some kind of milestone every game, Alex Ovechkin hit another on Sunday when he became just the third player in NHL history to record 30 or more goals in each of his first 11 NHL seasons.
Former Capitals forward Mike Gartner scored 30 or more goals in his first 15 NHL seasons and Wayne Gretzky netted 30 or more in his first 13 seasons. Ovechkin joined them when he scored on a deflection 15:56 into the second period to tie the score at 1-1. The Caps went on to a 3-2 win on Matt Niskanen’s highlight reel goal.
“We just have to do what we have to do,” Ovechkin said when asked about joining Gartner and Gretzky. “It was not a pretty goal, but it was a very important goal and I’ll take it.”
In his first 10 NHL seasons, Ovechkin has finished with goal totals of: 52, 46, 65, 56, 50, 32 (lockout), 38, 32, 51 and 53.
“He’s probably the best goal scorer of this generation of players,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “It’s not surprising. He’s probably going to do it another time or two before he’s done. It’s fantastic. Consistency is part of greatness.”
Power outage: The Caps’ top-ranked power play went 0-for-2 on the man-advantage against the Flyers and is now 0-for-17 the past five games. With that in mind, Trotz said the Caps replaced Evgeny Kuznetsov with Jason Chimera to have a greater net presence and better puck retrieval.
“We do make adjustments and if there is a trend we better fix it before the playoffs,” Trotz said, “because to me, if we don’t fix it before the playoffs you’re in a situation where it’s almost too late.”
The Caps have not gone five games without a power play goal since Games 2 through 7 in last year’s second-round playoff loss to the New York Rangers, when they went 0-for-13.
“We haven’t been finding the back of the net on the power play,” Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “But the penalty kill (5-for-5 Sunday) has been pretty good all year.”
MORE CAPS: NISKANEN ON FINAL GOAL