NEW YORK (AFP) — Russian superstar Alex Ovechkin scored his second consecutive hat trick to crack the National Hockey League’s (NHL) top 10 career goals list Saturday in Washington’s 6-4 victory over the New York Islanders.
The 34-year-old left winger, who led the Capitals to the 2018 Stanley Cup, netted his 26th career hat trick to reach 692 career goals since his NHL debut in 2005.
That took Ovechkin past Mario Lemeiux’s 10th-place total of 690 and moved him level with Steve Yzerman for ninth on the all-time list as the Capitals reached the NHL All-Star Game break with NHL highs of 32 wins and 69 points.
“Great names,” Ovechkin said. “There are some great players out there. It’s something special. History. It’s great.”
Next in Ovechkin’s path is Mark Messier in eighth on 694 all-time goals and just beyond the 700-goal milestone is 1980s Capitals star Mike Gartner on 708 in seventh.
“To see Ovie passing them and still have plenty of games in front of him to contineu to move forward is pretty awesome to see,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden said. “It’s special.”
Canadian legend Wayne Gretzky owns the all-time NHL goals record with 894.
Ovechkin, an eight-time NHL season goal scoring champion, has netted eight goals in the past three games to reach 34 this season, tying Toronto’s Auston Matthews for second behind Boston’s David Pastrnak on 36.
Reirden could only marvel at Ovechkin’s historic effort.
“I thought he was outstanding all night,” Reirden said. “I played him every other shift in the third. He was really going. Eight goals in the past three games is phenomenal.”
Ovechkin, now on pace for his ninth career 50-goal campaign, scored the first goal on a breakaway in the opening period, another in the third when the Capitals scored five goals to rally from a 4-1 deficit and the last into an empty net after the host Islanders had pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker.
“Everybody was kind of pissed off but we never give up no matter what the score is,” Ovechkin said. “Coming back, it was pretty special.”
Ovechkin will enjoy a week off during the NHL All-Star Game break. He declined to take part, saying he wanted to rest for the remainder of the Capitals campaign.
As a result, the NHL will make him sit out the first game after matches resume for Washington, which has the best record in the league.
“I left everything I had out there,” Ovechkin said. “I have a week off. Now it’s time to get ready for the second half of the year.”