Alex Ovechkin failed to score 30 goals in a season for the first time in his 16-season NHL career when the Washington Capitals forward did not score Tuesday in a 2-1 win against the Boston Bruins.
Ovechkin finished the season with 24 goals playing 45 games in the shortened 56-game season. He was trying to become the first NHL player to score at least 30 goals in 16 straight seasons.
Ovechkin's previous NHL low was 32 goals, which he scored playing all 48 games of the shortened 2012-13 season and playing 79 of 82 games in 2010-11.
At his rate of 0.53 goals per game this season, playing 80.3 percent of the Capitals' games, Ovechkin would have scored 35 in an 82-game season.
Ovechkin missed 11 games this season and played one shift in another. He was out for four games while in NHL COVID-19 protocol Jan. 20-29 and missed seven of eight games from April 22 through Tuesday with a lower-body injury. His last goal of the season was scored April 17.
"I think this situation is hard," Ovechkin said. "Nobody wants to go down. Nobody wants to get hurt. But the guys stepped up in the right way at the right time. It was a hard situation, but I think the guys did a tremendous job to get wins and make sure we're going to be in the playoffs."
It was the most games he missed in his NHL career. In 2009-10, he was out 10 games, six with a shoulder injury and four because of suspension; he scored 50 goals that season.
Ovechkin hadn't missed more than four games in any other season.
"I feel great," the 35-year-old said. "The trainers, all the staff did a great job. It was battle, a battle through that. I tried to play in New York, but I didn't feel comfortable and, obviously, we don't want to [take] a risk and that was a smart move. We were talking with [coach Peter Laviolette] and [trainer Jason Serbus] and they wanted to be 100 percent. Right now, I'm 100 percent. I didn't feel any soreness. I feel comfortable. That's the most important thing. This time of year, you have to be smart and you have to think about the future, not only the regular season."
The Capitals and Bruins will play each other in the Stanley Cup First Round. Game 1 of the best-of-7 series is at Boston on Saturday.
Ovechkin remained tied with Mike Gartner (1979-80 to 1993-94) and Jaromir Jagr (1991-92 to 2006-07) with 15 consecutive 30-goal seasons. Ovechkin and Gartner are the only players to score at least 30 goals in each of his first 15 NHL seasons.
Ovechkin will enter next season with 730 goals, one behind Marcel Dionne for fifth in NHL history.
The Capitals captain passed Gartner for seventh in NHL history by scoring No. 709 against the New York Rangers on Feb. 4 and passed Phil Esposito for sixth by scoring No. 718 against the New York Islanders on March 16.
Brett Hull is fourth with 741 goals, Jaromir Jagr is third with 766, Gordie Howe is second with 801, and Wayne Gretzky is first with 894.
"I thought he was good," Laviolette said. "I thought it was really good for him to get out and play a game. He hasn't played in a bit here. When he was cleared and deemed healthy the conversation switched to, 'Which was more important? Getting the feel of the game and touching the puck and making plays or waiting,' and I think the consensus was from everybody, especially Alex, that he wanted to get out there and play and get a feel for it. I thought it was good he got some work."
NHL.com staff writer Tom Gulitti contributed to this report