Alex Ovechkin assured himself of a seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy with a pair of goals Saturday night, pushing his league-leading total to 49.
Ovechkin’s closest competition was Jets’ second-year sniper, Patrik Laine, who finished with 44 goals. (Las Vegas’ William Karlsson entered Saturday’s late game vs. Calgary with 43.)
Ovi finished on top but he came up a goal short of an eighth 50 goal season.
It wasn’t for a lack of trying. The Caps’ captain scored goals in the first and third periods of Washington’s 5-3 win over New Jersey, with the Capital One Arena faithful chanting, ‘We want 50!’
Alas, he couldn’t get there, despite a third period breakaway and a couple of late power plays. All in all, Coach Trotz played his superstar 6:04 of the final 8:10.
Ovechkin finished with 18 shot attempts, including eight on goal.
“I have pretty good chances in the first and the second and the third, the breakaway, I missed an empty net,” he said before adding with a smile, “But whatever. S*** happens.”
Asked if he heard the chants, he said: “Yeah, of course. The guys, the fans cheering for me, it was pretty cool moment. I'm pretty sure they enjoy it, the boys, my team enjoyed it as well. If I did it, it would be pretty cool moment.”
“The fans [were] cheering for me. It was a pretty cool moment.” — Alex Ovechkin said of fans chanting ‘We want 50!’ late in the game. (Warning: there’s a hilarious s-bomb in here.) pic.twitter.com/718K8QRKvt— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) April 8, 2018
Ovechkin joined Bobby Hull as the only players to lead the NHL in goals seven times. Ovi also became the second player since expansion to lead the league in goals at age 32 or older. Phil Esposito did it twice in the early 1970’s just before his 33rd and 34th birthdays.
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“It is pretty remarkable,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “You get to see a pretty remarkable athlete night in and night out. And sometimes you don’t appreciate it as much as you should.
As disappointed as Ovechkin was to come up short of 50 goals, he was also eager to turn the page after the game to the bigger goal: authoring a deep postseason run.
“It's pretty special,” Ovechkin said of leading the league in goals. “Thanks to my teammates, obviously, without them nothing can happen.”
“I'm pretty sure right now our goal not about the personal stats,” he added. “Of course it's nice. Of course the end of the season you pay attention to that. Of course you don't want to lose it because you have a pretty good chance. I'm pretty sure right now for us it's most important thing is the playoffs. I think we're ready, and we can't wait to start.”
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