Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin scored his 500th career goal on Sunday night, becoming the 43rd player in NHL history to hit the mark. The Great Eight became the first player to hit the milestone since Jarome Iginla accomplished the feat in January of 2012.
“It is a special moment,” Ovechkin said. “It is nice to be in that category. It is really hard to score in this league right now, system-wise…If you get to 30 goals, 35 goals, you’re lucky. Without my teammates’ help, without the system, how we play, it is very hard to do.”
Ovechkin has the most goals of any player since he entered the NHL in 2005-2006 and he started off in style, scoring two goals in his debut on October 5, 2005.
He’s the fifth fastest player to hit the mark, with just Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy, and Brett Hull the only players to score 500 in fewer than 800 games.
“To do what he’s done in this day and age, in this competition, it’s amazing,” Capitals forward Justin Williams said. “I’m glad I was able to be a part of it this year. I know he wants to write a little more history, but so far it’s pretty impressive.”
Ovechkin also scored his 501st career goal in the game, with his Capitals routing the Ottawa Senators by a final score of 7-1.
The 30-year-old Russian has a league-leading 26 goals in 41 games this season, nine of which came on the power play. He has 211 shots on goal.
312 of his career goals are even-strength goals and 185 came on the man-advantage. He has four short-handed goals and 85 career game-winners. 25 of his goals are empty-netters. He’s scored 180 of his 501 career goals in the third period, which speaks to his ability to take a game over when he needs to.
As the fourth-youngest of the 500-goal club, Ovechkin is on tap to score a whole lot more before his career is over. Some projections suggest that he could reach his 600th goal at some point in the 2017-2018 season, with his 700th coming in the 2019-2020 season. That means he could pass Hull’s 741-goal milestone before it’s all said and done.
But the issue now for Ovechkin is to win the Stanley Cup, with Gretzky, Lemieux, Bossy, and Hull possessing a collective 12 Cups. Ovechkin has never taken his Capitals out of the second round of the post-season, making that 35-pound silver prize all the more important.
It could change this season, with Washington currently sporting one of their finest teams in franchise history. They have quality goaltending and they’ve been able to roll a rock-solid forward unit, with a sturdy and sound defensive group as well.
Yes, this could be the year for Ovechkin and the Capitals. With one more milestone in the books and his place in history secure, it’s the perfect time for Washington to take the next essential step to hockey greatness.