Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin continues to inch closer and closer to Wayne Gretzky's career goal record. Now, theGreat 8 has passed a key milestone in the race to pass The Great One.
The Russian superstar is coming off a 50-goal season in 2021-22, the ninth one of his career. He remains one of the game's most dangerous goal-scorers, with his signature one-time slap shot from the left dot continuing to terrorize goaltenders, even in his 18th season in the league.
It's improbable that Ovechkin breaks the record this season — he's under 100 goals behind Gretzky, but it would take Ovi breaking Gretzky's other record of most goals in a single season, while also becoming the first player ever to hit triple digits in goals in one year. However, he can still cut the deficit significantly.
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It feels more like when, not if Ovechkin breaks Gretzky's record at this point, but the 37-year-old Washington winger still has a ways to go. Here is a look at where Ovechkin stands with regard to Gretzky's career goal record.
All stats updated through Feb. 2.
NHL all-time goals leaders
Gretzky surpassed Gordie Howe for the goals record with No. 802 on March 23, 1994. It occurred in the second period at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, Calif., when Gretzky put the puck past Canucks goalie Kirk McLean to break the record, which had stood for 14 years.
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Nearly 29 years later, Gretzky remains in first. For as close as Ovechkin is, he is still more than 80 goals away from Gretzky, who scored his last goal on March 29, 1999.
Most career goals in NHL history
|Wayne Gretzky||Oilers, Kings, Blues, Rangers||894|
|Gordie Howe||Red Wings, Whalers||801|
|Jaromir Jagr||Penguins, Capitals, Rangers, Flyers, Stars, Bruins, Devils, Panthers, Flames||766|
|Brett Hull||Flames, Blues, Stars, Red Wings, Coyotes||741|
Most goals in an NHL season
|Wayne Gretzky||Edmonton Oilers||1981-82||92|
|Wayne Gretzky||Edmonton Oilers||1983-84||87|
|Brett Hull||St. Louis Blues||1990-91||86|
|Mario Lemieux||Pittsburgh Penguins||1988-89||85|
|Phil Esposito||Boston Bruins||1970-71||76|
|Alexander Mogilny||Buffalo Sabres||1992-93||76|
|Teemu Selanne||Winnipeg Jets||1992-93||76|
Will Alex Ovechkin catch Wayne Gretzky?
Gretzky holds a ton of records in NHL history, many of which will never be broken. But the career goal record is one that he may not hold onto.
As of Feb. 1, 2023, Ovechkin is 82 goals away from matching Gretzky's mark of 894. For his career, the Capitals captain is averaging 0.61 goals per game, meaning at that rate, he would score 50 goals in an 82-game season, a feat that Ovechkin is very familiar with.
If Ovechkin stays healthy and is able to produce at his career average, he would still be at least two years away from breaking the record, as it looks like it would happen at some point during the 2024-25 NHL season.
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The biggest obstacle for Ovechkin will be injuries. As long as he stays on the ice, he's likely to pass Gretzky by the time his contract expires in 2026. The Great 8 has stayed healthy for the majority of his career, so if we had to make a guess here at The Sporting News, we would say that Ovechkin does pass Gretzky as the NHL's all-time goal leader.
How many goals does Alex Ovechkin have?
Ovechkin nabbed goals 801 and 802, passing Howe for second all time, on Dec. 23 against the Jets inside a raucous Capital One Arena in Washington, a fitting setting given his affinity for the building.
The first goal was an eye-popping snapshot that beat Winnipeg goalie David Rittich
FLIP THAT GOAL COUNTER BABES! pic.twitter.com/c3b9v4vCVX— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) December 24, 2022
The second was an empty-netter in the waning seconds.
THAT'S HISTORY, BABES#Gr802 pic.twitter.com/luv4y8BxEY— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) December 24, 2022
Ovechkin entered the 2022-23 season with 780 career goals. He posted 50 last season, which included career No. 767 to pass Jaromir Jagr for third place on the all-time scoring list.
He's up to 32 goals this season, bringing his career total to 812. Ovechkin has now scored at least 30 times in every season of his career with exception being the shortened 2020-21 season where he had 24 in 45 games.
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Alex Ovechkin career stats
Ovechkin has made scoring goals look easy in the NHL ever since he arrived in North America from Russia. In his rookie season, he put up 52 goals, finishing four shy of the Sharks' Jonathan Cheechoo for the Rocket Richard Trophy. However, he did earn the Calder as Rookie of the Year.
The Great 8 has gone on to win the Rocket Richard Trophy nine times, including hitting the 50-goal mark nine times in his career. No other player has won the award more than twice.
*Won the Rocket Richard Trophy
^ Co-winner with David Pastrnak