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Ovechkin wins Best Male Athlete at ESPYs, first NHL player to do so

Capitals captain honored after Stanley Cup win, 600th goal

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Alex Ovechkin was named Best Male Athlete at the 2018 ESPY Awards on Wednesday.

The Washington Capitals captain is the first NHL player to win the award since its inception in 1993.

He was chosen in online voting from nominees including Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, Houston Rockets guard James Harden and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

 

[RELATED: USA Women's Hockey wins 2018 ESPY for 'Best Game']

 

Ovechkin was not at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Presenter Kate Beckinsale accepted the award on his behalf, saying he was in Russia with his wife, Nastya, who is expecting their child.

Ovechkin, who also won the ESPY for Best NHL Player, capped a milestone- and award-filled season by helping the Capitals win the Stanley Cup championship for the first time in their 43-season history.

Washington defeated the Vegas Golden Knights in five games in the Stanley Cup Final, and Ovechkin won the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after setting a Capitals record and leading the NHL with 15 postseason goals. The 32-year-old left wing finished second in the NHL with 27 points during the playoffs, behind teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov, who had 32.

Ovechkin had a hat trick in a 5-4 shootout win at the Ottawa Senators in the season opener Oct. 5 and scored four goals in a 6-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens two days later to become the first NHL player to open a season with a hat trick in consecutive games since 1917.

Video: Where does Ovechkin rank among the greatest?

Ovechkin led the NHL with 49 goals to win the Rocket Richard Trophy for the seventh time. He became the 20th player with 600 NHL goals when he scored twice against the Winnipeg Jets on March 12. He was the fourth player to reach the milestone in fewer than 1,000 NHL games (990), joining Wayne Gretzky (718), Mario Lemieux (719) and Brett Hull (900).

Ovechkin played in his 984th NHL game at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Feb. 26 to pass defenseman Calle Johansson for most in Capitals history. Ovechkin played his 1,000th NHL game at the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 1.

The No. 1 pick in the 2004 NHL Draft, Ovechkin has 1,122 points (607 goals, 515 assists) and was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian in 2017. He has won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP three times and the Art Ross Trophy once, when he had a career-high 112 points (65 goals, 47 assists) in 2007-08.

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 his 13 seasons.

The ESPYs have been held annually to recognize achievements of the past calendar year. Winners have been determined by online voting since 2005.

Russell Westbrook of the NBA won Best Male Athlete last year.

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