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Ovechkin scores 50th goal of season for Capitals

Forward third player to reach mark for eighth time, one shy of record

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

Ovechkin's 50th goal of season

WSH@TBL: Ovechkin scores 50th goal for eighth time

Alex Ovechkin rips T.J. Oshie's pass into the net to become the third player in NHL history to record 50 goals in a season at least eight times

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Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals scored his 50th goal of the season Saturday to become the third player to score that many in at least eight NHL seasons.

Ovechkin scored his 50th at 14:35 into the third period against the Tampa Bay Lightning to reach 50 for the first time since 2015-16. He scored his 51st at 16:15 of the 6-3 win.

"Obviously you want to score as early as possible, but, you know, I had chances before, but I knew it was going eventually come, especially when the guys know I had 49, so they try to find me all the time," Ovechkin said. "So thanks to them."

Wayne Gretzky (Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings) and Mike Bossy (New York Islanders) each had nine 50-goal seasons.

Ovechkin (33 years, 201 days on the final day of this season) is the third-oldest player in NHL history with a 50-goal season, according to NHL Stats. Johnny Bucyk, who scored his 50th goal of the 1970-71 season at 35 years and 308 days before finishing with 51, was the oldest, followed by Jaromir Jagr, who scored 54 with the New York Rangers in 2005-06 when he was 34 years and 62 days.

"I think it goes under the radar a little bit how many games he's played (1,081)," Capitals forward Tom Wilson said of Ovechkin. "He's always in. He's always playing hard. They haven't been easy miles on him. He's done it hard and he's played that way for a long time and he continues to just blow the roof off with his goal-scoring. We're pretty lucky to have him around, and he deserves it for sure."

Ovechkin scored 50 goals in four of his first five seasons, including 52 as a rookie in 2005-06 and an NHL career-high 65 in 2007-08. The forward failed to score 40 in his next three seasons but led the NHL with 32 in 48 games (a 54-goal pace in an 82-game season) during the shortened 2012-13 season.

After scoring 33 goals in 2016-17, Ovechkin led the NHL with 49 last season.

"I've had a couple of chances in previous years to score 50 but I didn't," Ovechkin said. "You always want to do something special, obviously, but sometimes it's hard. I'm happy to get it done."

Video: WSH@TBL: Ovechkin ties Robitalle with power-play goal

Since 2011-12, when Steven Stamkos of the Lightning scored 60 goals and Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins scored 50, Ovechkin is the only player to have a 50-goal season; this is his fourth in that span. He scored 51 in 2013-14, 53 in 2014-15, and 50 in 2015-16.

"I mean, it's the milestone as a goal-scorer," Stamkos said. "He's done it plenty of times. That's why he's been the best scorer in the last 10-15 years. He did it again tonight."

Ovechkin is on track to win the Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL's leading goal-scorer for the eighth time (Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers is second with 47). That would break a tie with Bobby Hull for the most times leading the NHL.

Ovechkin would become the sixth player to lead the NHL in goals at age 33 or older, the first since Phil Esposito in 1974-75 (33 years, 45 days for the Boston Bruins). The other players to do so are Bill Cook in 1932-33 (36 years, 165 days for the New York Rangers), Gordie Howe in 1962-63 (34 years, 358 days for the Detroit Red Wings), Nels Stewart in 1936-37 (34 years, 82 days for the Bruins and New York Americans), and Maurice Richard in 1954-55 (33 years, 228 days for the Montreal Canadiens).

Ovechkin, with 658 NHL goals, passed Brendan Shanahan for 13th all-time.

"It's been, obviously, a phenomenal milestone year for him and it's going to continue to be for the next few years as well," Washington coach Todd Reirden said. "But, you know, 50 goals eight times is remarkable. How he's done this year, he's scored goals all different ways.

"We're so fortunate to have this player in Washington and playing for the Capitals. A generational talent. And, you know, the NHL is fortunate to have a guy like this. We're spoiled in Washington for sure, but the whole National Hockey League is spoiled to have a guy like this. I'm happy for him because he put the work in. He put the work in and he deserves it." correspondent Corey Long contributed to this report

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