Alex Ovechkin hit the 14th hat-trick of his NHL career against Minnesota Wild on Thursday to move ahead of Montreal Canadiens’ legend Jean Beliveau on the league’s all-time goals chart.
Ovechkin’s second period trio for the Washington Capitals came in under 13 minutes to give him 509 NHL goals and 39th place on the list.
“My parents actually called me, probably a couple weeks ago, and said, ‘It’s time for you to get a hat-trick,” Ovechkin said. “It’s a good feeling. Obviously, when you get the second one it’s pretty cool, but when you have three goals in one game, it’s kind of special.”
Capitals went on to claim a 4-3 victory to move to 40-9-4 for the season, while Ovechkin now tops this season’s goals chart with 34 – one ahead of Chicago Blackhawks’ forward Patrick Kane.
The Russian opened the scoring two minutes into the middle period. Wild netminder Devan Dubnyk almost kept out Ovechkin’s shot, but the puck crept through his five-hole and trickled across the line.
“The first one was kind of a lucky goal – it hit my shaft and goes right between his legs,” Ovechkin said. “I was kind of surprised, but a goal’s a goal so I’ll take it.”
His second came three minutes later when he followed up a rebound off the boards from a John Carlson shot to coolly finish, while his third in the 14th minute of the period hit the post and Dubnyk before finding its way in.
“Somehow he knows how to get the puck to the net – it’s not always a highlight goal,” said Capitals’ forward Nicklas Backstrom.
“It’s incredible. The puck just comes to him, but he has that ability when it comes to put it in the net. It’s hard to do.”
“It’s how fast he gets it off and he can place it,” added Capitals’ boss Barry Trotz. “A lot of times in those close areas you’ve got to elevate the puck, and he’s got the ability to elevate it in real tight areas. It’s hard for goaltenders to read it off the stick. He’s really good.”
Ovechkin will now look to overtake Gilbert Perreault in the all-time list. The Canadian forwards scored 512 goals for Buffalo Sabres between 1970-87.
Wayne Gretzky is the NHL all-time leading scorer with 894 goals.