WASHINGTON — With the conclusion of the NHL regular season Sunday, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin officially secured his seventh career Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL’s goal-scoring leader.
Ovechkin had 49 goals and 87 points in 82 games, leading the Capitals to a third consecutive Metropolitan Division title. His 49 goals accounted for 19.1 percent of Washington’s total scoring this season, the highest percentage share by any player in the league.
This marks Ovechkin’s seventh career goal-scoring title, which is tied for the most in NHL history. Bobby Hull was the NHL’s goal-scoring leader seven times from 1959-60 through 1968-69.
Ovechkin, 32, is the oldest player to lead the league in goal scoring since Phil Esposito, then 33, led the NHL in goals in 1974-75.
He is also the second player in NHL history with at least 1,000 career games to finish tops in goal scoring, joining Gordie Howe (1962-63) in that exclusive club.
Ovechkin was limited to 33 goals in 2016-17, including a career-low 16 goals at even-strength, but challenged in the offseason to produce more at five-on-five, Ovechkin responded. His 32 even-strength goals this season were the fourth most in his 13-year career.
“He’s had an outstanding year,” Caps General Manager Brian MacLellan said before the regular-season finale. “He played at a high level for most of the year, probably carried our team in the beginning of the year — or he did carry our team the beginning of the year. I think he’s evolved to where he’s scoring goals differently, some more tips, screens, rebounds…His use of fake shots, making plays, drawing goalies, drawing defense. Five-on-five his production is outstanding this year.”