NHL leader Ovechkin reaches 30 goals for 14th year in row

AFP
Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin has scored 30 goals for a 14th consecutive season to start his NHL career, one shy of Mike Gartner's career record (AFP Photo/Patrick Smith)

Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin has scored 30 goals for a 14th consecutive season to start his NHL career, one shy of Mike Gartner's career record

Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin has scored 30 goals for a 14th consecutive season to start his NHL career, one shy of Mike Gartner's career record (AFP Photo/Patrick Smith)

Washington (AFP) - Alex Ovechkin, the Russian star who led the Washington Capitals to last season's Stanley Cup, has become only the second player with 30 goals in his first 14 NHL seasons.

The 33-year-old left wing netted his league-leading 30th goal of the 2018-19 campaign with 4:26 remaining in the first period of a 5-2 loss Thursday at St. Louis.

Former Capitals right wing Mike Gartner, an NHL standout in the 1980s and 1990s, is the only player with more 30-goal seasons to begin his career, with 15. Gartner also owns the all-time 30-goal seasons record mark of 17.

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"It's nice to be in that company but still a long way to go," Ovechkin said.

Ovechkin hit the 30-goal milestone in 39 games, matching the fewest games it has taken to score 30 in any season of his NHL career with 2007-08, when he netted his NHL career high of 65 goals in a season.

Ovechkin is the first player this season to 30 goals in the NHL. It is the fifth time in his career he has been fastest to the mark and fifth time in seven seasons.

"It's amazing what he has done," said Capitals coach Todd Reirden. "He's just an elite, elite scorer that we're so fortunate to have on our team, and the league is even fortunate just to have this type of a player that's a generational talent.

"To score 30 again this year is quite an accomplishment after going through a long season last year and he continues to get a year older, but he still does the phenomenal things. Just the way he's able to score goals is unmatched for the most part."

Ovechkin is only the third NHL player age 33 or older to be the first to 30 goals in a season, joining Canadian Bill Cook, 34, for the New York Rangers in 1930-31, and Finland's Teemu Selanne, 36, for Anaheim in 2006-07.

The only other over-30 NHL player with back-to-back 30-goal seasons was Phil Esposito for Boston in 1973-1975.

Ovechkin has 637 career NHL goals in 1,042 games, needing only three more to match Dave Andreychuk for 14th on the all-time league goals list.

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