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Ovechkin scores 40 goals for 11th time with Capitals

Forward gets hat trick against Kings to join Gretzky

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

Ovi caps hatty, reaches 40 goals

LAK@WSH: Ovechkin completes natural hat trick

Alex Ovechkin fires the puck into an empty net to finish off a natural hat trick in the 3rd period and reach the 40-goal mark for the 11th time

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WASHINGTON -- Alex Ovechkin joined Wayne Gretzky as the only NHL players to score 40 goals in 11 seasons when he scored three times in the third period for the Washington Capitals against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.

Ovechkin became the first player with 11 seasons of at least 40 goals with one team. Gretzky had 12 40-goal seasons, most in NHL history, during his 20 NHL seasons with the Edmonton Oilers (nine), Kings (three), St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers before retiring in 1999.

"Right after the year, yeah, I'm pretty sure my family and my friends are going to talk about it," Ovechkin said. "But now, personally, I don't try to concentrate about it. I'm just going out there and doing my job."

Video: LAK@WSH: Ovechkin converts feed from Oshie

Ovechkin has scored 698 goals in his 15-season NHL career and would become the eighth player to score 700 in the NHL (Gretzky (894), Gordie Howe (801), Jaromir Jagr (766), Brett Hull (741), Marcel Dionne (731), Phil Esposito (717) and Mike Gartner (708)).

The Capitals next play Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

"If you're going to think about it too much, you're never going to get it," Ovechkin said. "So I just have to go out there and play."

Ovechkin scored his 38th goal of the season with 6:10 remaining and his 39th with 5:00 to go. He scored his 40th into an empty net with 1:46 left to complete the 27th hat trick of his NHL career, moving ahead of Maurice Richard for eighth in history. 

"It was a tough couple periods for our line, but when [T.J. Oshie] jumped in, you can see we started to create some moments out there," Ovechkin said. "The first one was a pretty pass, and I got lucky it bounced off my stick and goes in."

Video: LAK@WSH: Ovechkin puts Capitals ahead in 3rd

Ovechkin has 14 goals in his past six games, including three hat tricks. 

"[That] sounds like a good year," Washington defenseman John Carlson said. "It sounds like a good year for the majority of the NHL."

Ovechkin, who helped Washington rally for a 4-2 win, is the 13th player to score three goals in the final seven minutes of the third period in an NHL game, the first since Capitals forward Peter Bondra on March 26, 1996 in a 7-1 win against the New York Islanders.

"That's impressive and just tonight sums it all up: In less than five minutes, he took over the game," Washington coach Todd Reirden said. "We win the game because of that. That's what superstars do. We're fortunate to have him. I say it all the time. D.C. and surrounding areas are just so fortunate to be able to witness what we're able to see in front of our eyes and have seen over the last number of years. This is a real, real special player."

With 40 goals in 53 games, Ovechkin is pace to score 61, which would be his most since he scored an NHL career-high 65 in 2007-08. It would be his second 60-goal season and ninth season with at least 50, tying Gretzky and Mike Bossy for the most in NHL history.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos was the last NHL player with a 60-goal season (60 in 2011-12).

His 53 games are the second fewest he has played to score 40 goals; he scored his 40th goal in his 52nd game in 2007-08, when he was 22 years old. The 34-year-old is the oldest NHL player with four hat tricks in a season.

He would be the second-oldest NHL player with a 50-goal season (Johnny Bucyk of the Boston Bruins, who scored 51 in 1970-71 when he was 35) and would join Phil Esposito of the Bruins as the only players to have three 50-goal seasons at age 30 or older.

It's the ninth time Ovechkin is the first player to score 40 goals. The only other NHL players who were first to 40 at least five times were Bobby Hull (six times) and Esposito (five). 

Ovechkin, who leads the NHL in goals this season, could win the Richard Trophy for a third straight season and ninth time. Hull is the only other player to lead the NHL in goals as many as seven times.

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