Alex Ovechkin moved past Phil Esposito into sixth place on the all-time NHL goal-scoring list when he scored the 718th of his career, a second-period power-play goal for the Washington Capitals in their 3-1 win against the New York Islanders on Tuesday.
The 35-year-old Moscow native is one of the best pure goal-scorers in NHL history, and his performance during his 16 seasons, all with the Capitals, has made him a generational talent. Ovechkin won the Calder Trophy as the top NHL rookie in 2006, is a three-time Hart Trophy winner and a nine-time Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy winner – including last season, when he scored 48 goals and shared the honor with David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins. He has won the Art Ross Trophy and is a three-time Ted Lindsay Award winner. Ovechkin was voted the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2018 when he led the Capitals to the Stanley Cup for the first time since entering the NHL in 1974.
Ovechkin’s next target is Marcel Dionne, who scored 731 goals in his Hall of Fame career.
Key Moments and Career Highlights
June 26, 2004: The Capitals select Ovechkin with the No. 1 pick in the 2004 NHL Draft.
Oct. 5, 2005: The NHL resumes play after a lockout wipes out the 2004-05 season. Ovechkin makes his debut against the Columbus Blue Jackets and scores two goals in Washington’s season-opening -2 win.
Jan. 13, 2006: Ovechkin gets his first NHL hat trick in his 43rd game when he scores all of Washington’s goals in a 3-2 overtime road win against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Two days later, he scores a spectacular third-period goal after falling down and sliding on his back in a 6-1 road win against the Phoenix Coyotes.
April 13, 2006: Ovechkin scores in the first period of a 5-3 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers to become the fourth rookie in NHL history to reach the 50-goal mark. He joins Teemu Selanne (76 in 1992-93), Mike Bossy (53 in 1977-78) and Joe Nieuwendyk (52 in 1987-88). Ovechkin finishes with 106 points (52 goals, 54 assists) in 81 games; two months later he wins the Calder Trophy as the top rookie in the NHL.
March 21, 2008: Two months after signing a 13-year, $124 million contract with the Capitals, Ovechkin becomes the 19th player in NHL history to have a 60-goal season when he scores a third-period goal in a 5-3 win against the Thrashers.
June 12, 2008: Ovi has a big night at the 2008 NHL Awards. After finishing the 2007-08 season with 112 points (65 goals, 47 assists), Ovechkin wins the Hart Trophy as the most valuable player, the Art Ross Trophy as the leading scorer, the Rocket Richard Trophy as the leading goal-scorer and the Ted Lindsay Award as the most outstanding player as voted by the NHL Players’ Association. He is the first player to win all four in the same season.
Ovi-Sid Rivalry Heats Up
May 4, 2009: In Game 2 of Washington’s second-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Capitals win 4-3 with Ovechkin and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby each scoring three goals. However, Washington loses the series in seven games. One month later, Ovechkin becomes the 17th player in NHL history to win the Hart Trophy twice and the 10th to win it in consecutive seasons.
Feb. 5, 2009: Ovechkin joins Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Bossy as the only players to score 200 goals in their first four NHL seasons. Goal No. 200 comes in a 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
April 5, 2011: A power-play shot from the top of the left circle against the Toronto Maple Leafs makes Ovechkin’s the sixth-youngest player in NHL history to score 300 goals.
June 14, 2013: After finishing the 2012-13 season with 56 points (32 goals, 24 assists) in 48 games, Ovechkin becomes the eighth player in NHL history to win the Hart Trophy three times.
Dec. 20, 2013: Ovechkin becomes the 89th NHL player to score 400 goals. He is the sixth-fastest to do so, trailing Gretzky, Bossy, Lemieux, Brett Hull and Jari Kurri.
Feb. 1, 2015: With a first-period, power-play goal in a 4-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues, Ovechkin reaches 30 goals for the 10th consecutive season. He becomes the fifth NHL player to accomplish that feat, joining Bossy, Gretzky, Kurri and Mike Gartner.
June 24, 2015: Ovechkin accepts his fifth Rocket Richard Trophy at the 2015 NHL Awards. He is the fifth player to lead the league in goals outright at least five times, joining Gretzky and Gordie Howe (five times each), and Bobby Hull and Esposito (six times), with Hull tying for the League lead on a seventh occasion.
Nov. 20, 2015: With his 484th NHL goal, Ovechkin passes Sergei Fedorov for most goals by a Russian-born player. He does in in his 777th game.
Jan. 10, 2016: Ovechkin becomes the 43rd player to score 500 NHL goals when he connects during a power play against the Ottawa Senators at Verizon Center.
Jan. 11, 2017: Playing in his 880th NHL game, Ovechkin becomes the 84th player in league history to reach 1,000 points when he scores a first-period goal against the Penguins. It’s also his 545th goal, moving him past Maurice Richard on the all-time list.
Jan. 25, 2018: Ovechkin becomes the sixth player in NHL history to score at least 30 goals in 13 consecutive seasons; he also gets his 500th assist in the Capitals’ 4-2 win against the Florida Panthers.
March 3, 2018: Ovechkin becomes the sixth player in NHL history to score 40 or more goals in at least nine seasons when he scores in a 5-2 win against the Maple Leafs in the 2018 NHL Stadium Series at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland. The others are Gretzky (12), Lemieux and Dionne (10), and Bossy and Mike Gartner (nine).
Champion at Last
March 12, 2018: Ovechkin becomes the 20th player in NHL history to score 600 goals when he scores twice in a 3-2 overtime win against the Winnipeg Jets.
May 7, 2018: Ovechkin has the primary assist on an overtime goal by Evgeny Kuznetsov to give the Capitals a series-clinching 2-1 win against the Penguins. It’s their first win in their past seven playoff series against Pittsburgh and they advance to the conference final for the first time in the Ovechkin era.
May 30, 2018: Two days after making his Stanley Cup Final debut, Ovechkin has his first goal of the Final in a 3-2 win in Game 2 against the Vegas Golden Knights. It’s the first Cup Final win in Capitals history.
June 7, 2018: Ovechkin scores his 15th goal of the playoffs, setting the Capitals record for the most during a single postseason, and wins the Conn Smythe Trophy after Washington wins its first championship with a 4-3 victory against the 0Golden Knights in Game 5 of the Final.
April 7, 2019: Ovechkin wins the Rocket Richard Trophy for an NHL-record eighth time. He scores 51 goals, holding off Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, who’s second with 50.
Chasing the Immortals
Jan. 20, 2020: Ovi fuels a comeback by the Capitals with three goals in a 6-4 win against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum, giving him 692 goals to move past Lemieux (690) and tie Steve Yzerman for ninth place on the all-time goal list.
Feb. 4, 2020: Ovechkin joins Gretzky as the only NHL players to score 40 goals in 11 seasons when he scores three times in the third period against the Los Angeles Kings. Ovechkin becomes the first player with 11 seasons of at least 40 goals with one team.
Feb. 22, 2020: The 700-goal club gets a new member when Ovechkin scores in a 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center. He joins Gretzky (894), Howe (801), Jaromir Jagr (766), Hull (741), Dionne (731), Esposito (717) and Gartner (708) as the only players in NHL history to score 700 goals.
Feb. 4, 2021: Ovechkin passes Gartner for seventh all-time when he scores his 709th NHL goal in a 4-2 loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
March 16, 2021: A goal against the Islanders at Capital One Arena moves Ovechkin past Esposito into sixth place on the all-time list with 718. It comes one night after he ties Esposito at 717 by scoring Washington’s final goal in a 6-0 road win against the Buffalo Sabres.
Longtime NHL writer and editor. Covered first NHL game in 1975 (and hundreds since). Have done several books, hundreds of magazine/newspaper/online stories. Big fan of hockey history.