Alex Ovechkin certainly has a flair for the dramatic. After being held scoreless on the Capitals' California road trip, he returned to Washington in a highly anticipated matchup with Patrik Laine and scored twice to reach No. 600 for his career. He is just the 20th player in NHL history to reach that mark.
After being limited to only 33 goals in 2016-17 and now at the age of 32, many wondered if Ovechkin's days as an elite goal-scorer were over. He entered the season 42 goals away from 600 and it was fair to wonder if he would even reach that mark this season or if the chase would stretch into the 2018-19 campaign.
That seems like a long time ago now.
After scoring 15 goals in his last 11 games, Laine entered Monday's contest with the hot hand. His latest scoring tear had pulled him even with Ovechkin for the league lead in goals with 40. Ovechkin rose to the challenge against the 19-year-old phenom.
Goal No. 599 came less than five minutes into the contest as a wrister from Ovechkin sneaked through the five-hole of goalie Connor Hellebuyck. With over 55 minutes left to play, there was never a doubt that 600 would not be far behind.
The historic tally came in the second period as he chipped a rebound over a sprawled Hellebuyck. As the puck dropped to restart play, fans serenaded Ovechkin with chants of, "Ovi! Ovi! Ovi!"
Take a moment to appreciate the historic moment. The last time a player scored his 600th goal was when Jerome Iginla did it on Jan. 5, 2016. Ovechkin is the only player in the NHL with 600 goals (Jaromir Jagr is playing in Europe, Iginla is playing for Providence in the AHL). It could be a long time before we see another player reach that mark. Patrick Marleau is the only active player with more than 500 as he sits with 529 and, at 38 years old, seems unlikely to score another 71 goals in his career.
In addition to being his 600th goal, Ovechkin's tally was also his league-leading 42nd of the season. He leads all players in goals since 1998-99, despite the fact that he did not make his NHL debut until 2005.
While Wayne Gretzky's all-time goal mark of 894 still remains very far in the distance, there are still several players very much within reach of Ovechkin. By season's end, Ovechkin could climb pass Jari Kurri (601), Dino Ciccarelli (608) and Bobby Hull (610). A 50-goal season also remains very much within reach. If he reaches that point, it will be for the eighth time in his remarkable career, pulling within one of Gretzky and Bossy who recorded nine 50-goal seasons.
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