* Alex Ovechkin scored his 25th career regular-season hat trick to tie Cy Denneny for the ninth-most in League history and reach the 30-goal mark for the 15th time in as many campaigns. Hat tricks wasn’t the only all-time list Ovechkin climbed on Thursday, as outlined below.
* Several of Ovechkin’s countrymen also shined Thursday, including Capitals rookie goaltender Ilya Samsonov.
* The Bruins kept pace with the League-leading Capitals in the NHL standings, thanks in part to a Boston veteran recording his 11th career 20-goal season.
OVECHKIN REACHES 30-GOAL MARK FOR 15TH TIME IN AS MANY NHL SEASONS
Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (3-0—3) scored multiple times for a second straight game (also Jan. 13: 2-0—2 vs. CAR) to reach the 30-goal mark for the 15th time in as many NHL seasons (31-16—47 in 48 GP). He became the second player in League history to reach the 30-goal mark in each of his first 15 seasons, joining longtime Capitals forward Mike Gartner (1979-80 – 1993-94).
* Aside from Ovechkin and Gartner, only one other skater has reached the 30-goal mark in 15 consecutive seasons at any point in his NHL career: Jaromir Jagr (1991-92 – 2006-07). Gartner (17), Ovechkin (15) and Jagr (15) are also the only players in League history to accumulate 15 or more 30-goal seasons (consecutive or otherwise).
* Ovechkin scored the 687th, 688th and 689th regular-season goals of his NHL career to move within one of matching Mario Lemieux (690) for 10th place on the League’s all-time list. The tallies were also Ovechkin’s 752nd, 753rd and 754th career NHL goals including the Stanley Cup Playoffs, moving him past Gartner (751) and Marcel Dionne (752) for sole possession of the ninth-highest such total in League history.
* Ovechkin recorded his 140th career multi-goal game in the regular season to pass Dionne (139) for sole possession of the sixth-most in NHL history. Ovechkin scored multiple goals in two or more consecutive team games within a regular season for the 16th time, tying Jari Kurri and Teemu Selanne for the seventh-highest such total in League history.
DID YOU KNOW?
Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom assisted on two tallies by Alex Ovechkin and has now collected helpers on 257 career regular-season goals scored by his longtime partner in crime. Only three players in NHL history have assisted on more regular-season goals by a teammate: Wayne Gretzky with Jari Kurri (364), Bryan Trottier with Mike Bossy (310) and Henrik Sedin with Daniel Sedin (280).
OTHER RUSSIAN PLAYERS CONTINUE RECENT STRINGS OF SUCCESS
In addition to Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, fellow countrymen Artemi Panarin (NYR), Ilya Kovalchuk (MTL) and Ilya Samsonov (WSH) also shined Thursday to continue recent strings of success:
* Panarin collected an assist to help the Rangers improve to 2-0-0 in their four-game season series versus the Islanders (NYI: 0-2-0), with their first win occurring on Monday (6-2 W) when the “Bread Man” factored on five of six goals (2-3—5).
* Panarin has registered 13 points over his last five games (4-9—13) and 68 overall this season (26-42—68 in 46 GP), trailing only the Oilers tandem of Connor McDavid (25-49—74 in 48 GP) and Leon Draisaitl (27-46—73 in 48 GP) in the 2019-20 Art Ross Trophy race.
* Thirty-six-year old Kovalchuk scored twice and is producing at a point-per-game pace since being signed by the Canadiens on Jan. 3 (3-4—7 in 7 GP), a stark contrast from when he was with the Kings earlier this season (0.53 P/GP; 3-6—9 in 17 GP).
* Kovalchuk (439-427—866 in 904 GP), who passed Pavel Bure (437-342—779 in 702 GP) for sole possession of the fourth-most regular-season tallies in NHL history among Russian skaters, became the oldest player to record a multi-goal game with Montreal since another countryman Andrei Markov (38 years, 95 days) on March 25, 2017 (2-1—3 vs. OTT).
* Samsonov (32 saves) improved to 9-0-0 in his last nine decisions dating to Nov. 30, 2019 (1.66 GAA, .939 SV%, 1 SO) and established a Capitals record for longest such run by a rookie goaltender, eclipsing the previous mark of eight straight set by Bob Mason from Dec. 2, 1984 – Jan. 17, 1985 (8-0-0; 2.25 GAA, .915 SV%, 1 SO).
* Samsonov became the 10th different rookie goaltender in NHL history to earn wins in nine-plus consecutive decisions within a regular season – a feat last achieved by St. Louis’ Jordan Binnington in 2018-19.
BERGERON JOINS RARE BRUINS COMPANY WITH 11TH 20-GOAL SEASON
Boston forward Patrice Bergeron scored to reach the 20-goal mark for the 11th time in his NHL career and pass Rick Middleton (10x) for the second-most in franchise history, trailing only Johnny Bucyk (16x).
* The Atlantic Division-leading Bruins improved to 28-9-12 (68 points) this season and occupy third place in the NHL standings behind the Capitals (32-11-5, 69 points) and Blues (30-10-8, 68 points).
* Boston, which moved five points ahead of fourth-place Pittsburgh (29-13-5, 63 points), improved to 12-0-1 in its last 13 home contests against the Penguins dating to a double-overtime win in Game 3 of the 2013 Conference Finals.
GOLDEN KNIGHTS EARN WIN IN FIRST GAME UNDER DeBOER
Mark Stone scored in his return to Canadian Tire Centre to help the Golden Knights earn a win in their first game under new head coach Peter DeBoer. Vegas improved to 2-0-0 in two all-time games in which a head coach was making his team debut, following a win under Gerard Gallant when the Golden Knights played their first regular-season contest in franchise history on Oct. 6, 2017 (2-1 W at DAL).
* Vegas became the third franchise in NHL history to earn wins in each of its first two games where a head coach made his team debut, joining the Montreal Canadiens (Dec. 19, 1917: 7-4 W at SEN under Newsy Lalonde; Jan. 11, 1922: 3-2 W at HAM under Leo Dandurand) and now-defunct New York Americans (Dec. 2, 1925: 2-1 OT W at PIR under Tommy Gordan; Nov. 16, 1926: 1-0 W at PIR under Lalonde).
MORE HIGHLIGHTS FROM THURSDAY’S 13-GAME SLATE
* David Rittich made 35 saves through 65 minutes and turned aside all three Toronto shootout attempts to backstop Calgary (26-18-5, 57 points) into first place in the tightly-contested Pacific Division standings. Rittich, who was recently named to the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game, became the first goaltender to hold Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews goalless in a contest at Scotiabank Arena since Colorado’s Philipp Grubauer on Dec. 4, 2019 – snapping his career-high home goal streak at eight games (14-4—18).
* Cale Makar scored his 10th goal of 2019-20 (10-24—34 in 39 GP) to tie the Avalanche/Nordiques franchise record for most in a single season by a rookie defenseman, a mark set by John-Michael Liles in 2003-04 (10-24—34 in 79 GP). Makar also moved within three points of matching the club record for most in a single season by a rookie blueliner, established by Quebec’s Bruce Bell in 1984-85 (6-31—37 in 75 GP).
* Florida captain Aleksander Barkov (0-1—1) recorded the 395th regular-season point of his NHL career (149-246—395 in 459 GP) to pass Stephen Weiss (145-249—394 in 654 GP) for sole possession of third place on the franchise’s all-time list. Two of the top three all-time scorers in Panthers history are active players, with Jonathan Huberdeau (143-278—421 in 513 GP) recently passing Olli Jokinen (188-231—419 in 567 GP) for top spot.
* The Canucks improved to 7-0-0 in their last seven contests at Rogers Arena, the longest active home win streak in the NHL and Vancouver’s lengthiest since an eight-game run from March 19 – April 22, 2013. Vancouver (26-18-4, 56 points) occupies third place in the Pacific Division standings.
* Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins made 32 saves to improve to 3-0-0 in his last three appearances, posting a 0.67 goals-against average, .979 save percentage and two shutouts over that span. Columbus (24-16-8, 56 points) moved into the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
* Sidney Crosby tallied 24 seconds in and has recorded five points in two games since returning to the Pittsburgh lineup on Tuesday (2-3—5). Crosby scored his 12th career opening-minute goal in the regular season and moved within one of matching Mark Messier (13) for the most in NHL history.