Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals
became the NHL’s first 60-goal scorer in 12 years when he got his second of the night midway through the third period of the Caps 5-3 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers
on Friday night.
Ovechkin got his 59th on a screened shot from above the right circle at 15:18 of the first period, giving the Capitals a 1-0 lead. After Atlanta took the lead with three goals in the second period, Ovechkin reached the 60-goal mark when he fired a rebound past Atlanta goaltender Kari Lehtonen at 11:30 of the final period.
The milestone goal energized the Capitals, who tied the score on a goal by Nicklas Backstrom at the 16-minute mark and went ahead 32 seconds later when Backstrom scored again, with Ovechkin earning an assist.
Boyd Gordon added an empty-net goal with eight seconds remaining, capping a period in which the Capitals outshot the Thrashers 23-2.
Before Ovechkin, no NHL player had scored 60 goals in a season since a pair of Pittsburgh Penguins, Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr, did it in 1995-96. Lemieux led the NHL that season with 69 and Jagr was second with 62.
The only other player with as many as 50 goals this season is Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk, who scored his 50th of the season on Tuesday.
Ovechkin also leads the NHL with 105 points, six more than runner-up Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins.
Ovechkin had 52 goals and 106 points in 2005-06, when he won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie. He had 46 goals and 92 points last season.
The victory moved the Capitals within one point of eighth-place Boston in the Eastern Conference.