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This Date in NHL History

Sept. 17: Ovechkin born in Moscow

Plus: Expansion Sabres play first preseason game; Hall of Famer Lafleur makes debut for Canadiens

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / Managing Editor


1985: Alex Ovechkin, the highest-scoring Russia-born player in NHL history, is born in Moscow.

Ovechkin is taken by the Washington Capitals with the No. 1 pick in the 2004 NHL Draft and joins them for the start of the 2005-06 season. He wins the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie and is named a First-Team All-Star after scoring 52 goals and finishing with 106 points.

In 2007-08, Ovechkin becomes the first NHL player since 1995-96 to score at least 60 goals in a season when he gets 65. He scores at least 50 seven times in his first 11 seasons.

Ovechkin becomes the first NHL player born in Russia to score 500 goals on Jan. 10, 2016, and the first to score 600 when he gets two against the Winnipeg Jets on March 12, 2018. In 2017, he is named to the 100 Greatest NHL Players.

He finishes the 2017-18 season with 49 goals, winning the Maurice Richard Trophy as the NHL's top goal-scorer for the seventh time in 13 seasons, then wins the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP when he helps the Capitals win the Stanley Cup for the first time since entering the NHL in 1974. Ovechkin passes Sergei Fedorov for the most points by a Russia-born player with an assist on Feb. 5, 2019, and he finishes the 2018-19 season with 51 goals to lead the League for the eighth time, passing Bobby Hull for the most in NHL history. On Feb. 22, 2020, he scores against the New Jersey Devils to become the eighth member of the 700-goal club.

WSH@VGK, Gm5: Capitals presented with Stanley Cup



1970: The Buffalo Sabres, one of two expansion teams joining the NHL for the 1970-71 season, play the first game in team history, a 4-4 preseason tie against the New York Rangers in Peterborough, Ontario. Center Billy Inglis scored the first goal; however, he never scores a regular-season goal for the Sabres, finishing with one assist in 14 games.


1971: Future Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur, the No. 1 pick in the 1971 NHL Draft, plays his first game and has three assists for the Montreal Canadiens in a 7-4 preseason win against the Boston Bruins at the Forum.

Video: Guy Lafleur won Cup five times in Montreal


1997: Auston Matthews, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, is born in San Ramon, California. Twelve years after the Capitals make Ovechkin the first pick in 2004, the Toronto Maple Leafs do the same with Matthews. Like Ovechkin, Matthews also the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie in his first season.


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