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Rocket Richard Trophy

Ovechkin leads NHL in goals for seventh time

Scores 49 to win Rocket Richard Trophy; Laine second, Karlsson third

by Mike Battaglino / Staff Writer

Alex Ovechkin will win the Rocket Richard Trophy, given to the NHL goals leader, for a seventh time.

The Washington Capitals forward scored 49 goals this season, including two in a 5-3 win against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. Winnipeg Jets forward Patrik Laine was second with 44, and Vegas Golden Knights forward William Karlsson was third with 43.

"It's pretty special," Ovechkin said. "Thanks to my teammates, obviously without them nothing can happen. I'm pretty sure right now our goal [is] not about the personal stats. 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."

Ovechkin, who turned 32 before the season, is the oldest player to lead the NHL in goals (based on his age on the final day of the season) since Phil Esposito did so at 33 (61 goals for the Boston Bruins in 1974-75).

"Without my teammates, I don't think I can do that," Ovechkin said. "My trainer back in Russia did a pretty good job handling me and we changed little things, and I think it works."

Video: NJD@WSH: Ovechkin blasts home sizzling one-timer

The Bruins host the Florida Panthers in the final game of the season Sunday. No player is within reasonable distance of Ovechkin.

Ovechkin fell one short of his eighth 50-goal season. He played 10:16 in the third period Saturday.

"I was praying that he would get 50, and everyone on the bench was too," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "But still, 49 goals, not that many guys in this league can do what he's done. He's been outstanding."

Ovechkin said, "I think I should [have gotten to it] before, obviously, but still [had] a pretty good chance at the end. … The guys, the fans cheering for me, it was a 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 a pretty cool moment."

Ovechkin led the NHL in goals in 2007-08 (65), 2008-09 (56), 2012-13 (32), 2013-14 (51), 2014-15 (53) and 2015-16 (50). He scored 33 last season, his fewest in a full NHL season.

Video: NJD@WSH: Ovechkin nets 49th goal on knuckling slapper

He scored twice March 12 against the Winnipeg Jets to become the 20th player to score 600 NHL goals. He was the fourth player to do so in fewer than 1,000 games (990), joining Wayne Gretzky (718), Mario Lemieux (719) and Brett Hull (900).

He is one of six players in NHL history with at least nine 40-goal seasons, joining Gretzky (12), Lemieux and Marcel Dionne (10), and Mike Bossy and Mike Gartner (nine). 

The No. 1 pick in the 2004 NHL Draft, Ovechkin scored twice in his debut against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Oct. 5, 2005, and finished his rookie season with 52 goals.

Ovechkin, who has 607 goals and 515 assists for 1,122 NHL points, was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian in 2017. He has won the Hart Trophy (MVP) three times and the Art Ross Trophy (scoring champion) once. The Calder Trophy winner as NHL rookie of the year in 2005-06, he has been named a First Team All-Star or Second Team All-Star in 10 of the past 12 seasons.

"It is pretty remarkable," 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." staff writer Tom Gulitti contributed to this report.

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