Alex Ovechkin: 15 Greatest Highlights of His Career
Over the course of the last seven seasons, Alexander Ovechkin has provided hockey fans with as many memorable goals and highlights as any other player during that span.
The colorful yet, at times, mercurial superstar was a consistent presence on highlight reels through the first five years of his decorated career, and though the dazzling goals have been harder to come by of late, he still displays his brilliance as a scorer on occasion.
Ovechkin's unique blend of size, skill and physicality enabled him to light the lamp at a virtually unparalleled level during the earlier stages of his career, but the method by which he scored is what has made him an even bigger star.
With that in mind, here is a look at the top 15 moments of Alex Ovechkin's career.
15. First NHL Game
Ovechkin's first NHL goal.
Heading into the 2005-06 NHL season, there were big expectations in front of Alex Ovechkin, whose NHL debut was delayed for a year by the NHL lockout.
It took the rookie just one game to cement his status as the Washington Capitals' franchise player, as Ovechkin delivered a fantastic opening-night performance, notching two goals in a 3-1 victory over Columbus.
On his opening shift, Ovechkin made a lasting impression by putting the Blue Jackets' Radoslav Suchy through the glass with a devastating check.
Soon afterwards, Ovechkin scored his first of two goals on the night, on a blistering one-timer from the high slot, sending the Verizon Center into a frenzy.
Fittingly, the Caps' prized rookie was selected as the game's first star, and a star was officially born in Washington.
14. First Playoff Goal
Ovechkin's first career Playoff goal against Philadelphia.
After a pair of seasons finishing near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals mounted a second-half comeback in 2007-08, surging to the top of the Southeast Division standings after sitting dead last on Thanksgiving Day.
Though the Caps ultimately fell to the Flyers in seven games, Ovechkin's playoff debut was a night to remember.
With his team behind by two goals entering the third period, Mike Green tallied two goals to knot the game at four midway through the frame.
Then Ovechkin took over.
With just under five minutes left on the clock, Ovechkin stripped Philadelphia's Lasse Kukkonen of the puck near the front of the Flyers' net, and proceeded to out-wait goaltender Martin Biron before rifling the game-winner over an outstretched Biron.
13. Series-Clinching Goal Against the Rangers (2011)
Alex Ovechkin seals the Caps' Quarterfinal Series against the Rangers.
Entering the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, no team faced as much pressure to make it out of the first round as the Washington Capitals.
For the second consecutive season, the Caps had finished atop the Eastern Conference standings, earning themselves a date with the eighth-seeded team, which in this case was the New York Rangers.
After a see-saw battle through the first four games that resulted in a 3-1 series lead for Washington, Ovechkin and the Capitals were intent on wrapping things up on home ice in Game 5.
They did just that, as for the first time in Bruce Boudreau's tenure as head coach, the Caps finished a series in fewer than seven games.
In the second period of the decisive game, Ovechkin provided the game-clinching tally with a breathtaking end-to-end rush that left Marc Staal and Henrik Lundqvist mesmerized.
After taking a breakout pass from Scott Hannan, Ovechkin streaked down the right wing around an exhausted Staal before putting a backhander over Lundqvist.
The goal put an exclamation mark on the series for the Caps, as they appeared to have momentum heading into the semifinals.
12. Ovechkin's 65th Goal in 2007-08
Ovechkin's 64th and 65th goals in 2007-08.
In 2007-08, Alex Ovechkin put together one of the greatest goal-scoring performances in NHL history, as he notched 65 goals, the most since Mario Lemieux's 69 in 1995-96.
Facing the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Capitals' second-to-last game of the season, Ovechkin scored a garbage goal midway through the first period by simply driving to the front of the net, where he deposited a Viktor Kozlov rebound past Tampa Bay's Karri Ramo.
However, with over 10 minutes remaining in the third period, the Caps remained deadlocked with the Lightning, and Washington needed a win in order to keep pace with Carolina for the final playoff berth.
Ovechkin rose to the occasion. With Washington on the power play, Mike Green fed a wide open Ovechkin at the left point, who unleashed a rocket that headed straight for the top left corner of the net.
The goal was a fitting end to one of the most remarkable offensive performances in recent memory, and helped the Caps clinch their first trip to the postseason since 2003.
11. Ovechkin's 50th Goal in 2008-09
Ovechkin's 50th goal of the season in 2008-09.
In 2008-09, Ovechkin registered the third 50-goal season of his career, and was visibly overjoyed to do so.
After barreling down the right wing with a head of steam, Ovechkin unleashed a laser that blew by Tampa Bay's Mike McKenna on the glove side.
Upon realizing that he'd hit the 50-goal plateau, Ovechkin unveiled a rare preplanned celebration in which he dropped his stick to the ice and attempted to depict that it was too hot to touch.
The celebration actually made more headlines than the goal, as players across the league and Lightning bench boss Rick Tocchet criticized the celebration.
10. Four-Goal Game Against Montreal in 2008
Ovechkin's four goal game against Montreal.
In 2007-08, Ovechkin tallied a league-leading 65 goals, winning his first and only scoring title. His most dominant performance of that magical regular season came in January of 2008, as his Capitals faced the Montreal Canadiens at home.
After taking a high stick to the face from Russian countryman Alexei Kovalev, Ovechkin played like a man possessed, as he tallied four goals en route to a 5-4 overtime victory for the Capitals.
All three of his regulation markers were things of beauty, as he scored on a one-timer and two rockets from the outside, before he finished the night off with a tap-in in the extra session.
That night was possibly the most impressive performance of Ovechkin's career, and was the first of his two career four-goal outings.
9. Hat Trick on Super Bowl Sunday (2009)
Ovechkin's hat trick on Super Bowl Sunday 2009.
In 2009, the Capitals faced off against their bitter rivals from Pittsburgh on Super Bowl Sunday, in what was one of the most highly anticipated games of the season.
In the second period, with his Capitals down by two goals, Ovechkin took a pass from Jeff Schultz and found himself on a breakaway with just Marc-Andre Fleury to beat. Ovechkin proceeded to wire a wrist shot through Fleury's legs, breaking the video camera in the net in the process.
Later in the game, with the Caps down by two goals once again, Ovechkin played the role of hero once again. In less than five minutes, Ovechkin scored two goals, both on one-timers from different areas of the slot, knotting the game at four.
In overtime, Ovechkin's slap shot was tipped in by Mike Knuble, giving the Capitals an important come-from-behind win over their arch rivals.
8. Two Goals in 12 Seconds Against Calgary
Ovechkin's two goals in 12 seconds against Calgary.
In 2010-11, the Washington Capitals trailed the Calgary Flames by a goal roughly four minutes into the second period, but had an opportunity to level the score with two Flames in the penalty box serving minors.
Utilizing the two-man advantage, Ovechkin took a pass from Mike Green at the top of the right faceoff circle, and blasted a one-timer past Calgary's Mikka Kiprusoff, tying the game at two.
Before the Flames had time to compose themselves, Ovechkin and the Caps struck again.
After winning the ensuing faceoff, the Capitals regrouped, Ovechkin took a pass from Alexander Semin in the same spot as before and lit the lamp again to give the Capitals a 3-2 lead.
In just 12 seconds, Ovechkin had single-handedly turned the tide in the Caps' favor by scoring two power-play goals before the Flames fans had even stopped booing the first tally.
7. Overtime Winner Against the Islanders (2011)
Ovechkin's overtime winner against the Islanders in 2011.
Though the 2010-11 NHL season was easily the worst of Ovechkin's career, he still managed to produce a few highlight-reel goals, including a couple of overtime tallies.
One of which came in March of 2011, as the Caps played host to the New York Islanders.
After Brooks Laich sent the game to overtime on a last-minute goal, Ovechkin picked the puck up at his own blue line, and found himself with room to skate the puck up ice.
At the red line, Ovechkin made a nifty little inside-outside move to get around the Islanders' Frans Nielsen, springing himself in on a two-on-one break with Nicklas Backstrom, with the game on his stick.
From there, Ovechkin cut to the inside on his backhand, freezing the Islanders goaltender and defenseman, before lifting the puck into the upper half of the net to give the Caps a much-needed victory.
6. 2006 Olympic Quarterfinals
Ovechkin's Game Winner Against Canada
In February 2006, Alex Ovechkin was still a relatively unproven commodity, considering he was just midway through his first NHL season.
With his Russian squad facing off against the pre-tournament favorite and defending gold medalists in Team Canada, Ovechkin was presented with one of his first opportunities to rise to the occasion on a grand stage.
The 20-year-old sniper did not disappoint, notching the game-winning goal early in the third period, sending Canada home early.
Though his 2010 Olympics were a colossal disappointment, Ovechkin did perform admirably in his first Olympic experience, notching five goals en route to a tournament All-Star team selection.
5. One-Handed Goal Against the Rangers (2010)
Ovechkin's one handed goal against the Rangers.
Now seven seasons into his NHL career, Alex Ovechkin has scored some beautiful goals, with a number coming against the New York Rangers.
One of his most recent highlight-reel tallies against the Caps' rival to the north came in February of 2010, as Washington visited New York.
With the Capitals down by two goals late in the second period, Ovechkin received a pass from Nicklas Backstrom at the red line and screamed down the left wing with speed.
Facing Michael Rozival on a one-on-one, Ovechkin pulled his patented curl-and-drag move to bring the puck to his backhand, but with one hand tied up by Rozival, he was forced to get creative.
So, with one hand on his stick, Ovechkin flipped the puck up over Henrik Lundqvist to bring the Caps to within a goal at the second intermission.
It was one of the most incredible goals of the 2009-10 season, and is the type of play that only a player with Ovechkin's strength, reach and skill could even dream of executing.
4. First Career Playoff Hat Trick
Ovechkin's hat trick against the Penguins in the 2009 Semifinals.
The highlight of the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs is considered by many to be the Eastern Conference semifinals that pitted rival superstars Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby against one another for the first time in the postseason.
The two did not disappoint, as they each scored an average of over two points per game, and produced Herculean performances on a nightly basis.
While Game 7 of the series turned out to be a blowout, Game 2 was an instant classic, as it featured the game's two best players at their best.
The game ended in a 4-3 Capitals victory, with Ovechkin and Crosby leading the charge with three goals apiece.
Ovechkin's hat trick came in typical Ovechkin fashion, as he blasted one-timers for his first and second goals of the night and notched the game-winner on a dazzling rush ending with a rocket that found the roof of the net from the high slot.
Though the Capitals would go on to lose the series, Ovechkin's performance in Game 2 of that series was the stuff of legends.
3. Playoff Goal Against the Rangers (2009)
Ovechkin's magical goal against the Rangers in 2009.
In 2008-08, the second-seeded Capitals entered their quarterfinal matchup as a heavy favorite against the New York Rangers.
Things didn't go as planned for the Caps through the series' first four games, as the Capitals found themselves on the brink of elimination heading into Game 5 on home ice.
However, the Capitals received two goals from grinder Matt Bradley, and a beautiful one-timer from Alexander Semin to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the second period.
Though the game was already out of reach for the Rangers, Ovechkin scored an unbelievable goal to increase the margin to four, and helped shift the momentum in Washington's favor for good.
Flying down the left wing with the puck, Ovechkin cut back at the blue line on defenseman Derek Morris, slipped the puck through Nik Zherdev's skates and beat Henrik Lundqvist with a backhander from his knees.
The goal served as the turning point in the series, as the Capitals stormed back from a 3-1 series deficit to take the series in Game 7.
2. Regular-Season Beauty Against Montreal
Ovechkin's highlight reel goal against Montreal in 2009.
In 2009, Alex Ovechkin was on top of the hockey world, and was easily the most feared goal scorer in the game.
Not only did he score at an unrivaled pace, but the ways in which he lit the lamp were endless, and he electrified fans across the hockey world with goals like the one he scored against Montreal in February of 2009.
Aided by Canadiens defenseman Mike Komisarek's sloppy pass to Roman Hamrlik, Ovechkin anticipated the play perfectly, beating Hamrlik to the puck along the boards and performed a 360-degree turn to get around him.
From there, Ovechkin raced in on Habs goaltender Carey Price, with forward Kyle Chipchura in hot pursuit. Ovechkin held Chipchura off the puck, but fell to the ice in the process, leaving him with little chance of beating Price.
However, with a stroke of luck, the puck remained on Ovechkin's stick as he slid to the top of the crease, and he managed to guide the puck through Price's legs to tie the game at one.
The goal is widely regarded as the second best of Ovechkin's career, and was one of the most dominant displays in recent memory.
1. The Goal
Ovechkin's "The Goal" against Phoenix.
In 2005-06, Alex Ovechkin was still in the process of establishing himself as an NHL superstar, as he was in close competition with Sidney Crosby for the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie.
Though Ovechkin would ultimately go on to win the Calder after outscoring Crosby by four points, the most memorable moment of his magnificent rookie season was undoubtedly the goal he scored in January of 2006.
With his Capitals up by four on the Phoenix Coyotes, Ovechkin collected the puck and charged down the right wing, looking to make a move on Phoenix's Paul Mara.
After his attempt to dangle through Mara was foiled, Ovechkin lost his balance and fell to the ice. However, while in the midst of falling on his back, Ovechkin somehow miraculously steered the puck towards the Phoenix net.
Seeing as Ovechkin was effectively taken out of the play by Mara, Phoenix's goaltender, Brian Boucher let his guard down, and was caught out of position by Ovechkin's prayer of a shot.
The puck slid into the net as Ovechkin rolled on the ice, stunning everyone in attendance. After the replay was displayed in the arena, even Wayne Gretzky, the Coyotes coach at the time, was left dumbfounded by the young Russian's maneuver.