Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals has surpassed Wayne Gretzky’s record for the most 40-goal seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) history, scoring his 40th goal of the season against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Capital One Arena on Tuesday. This was Ovechkin’s 13th 40-goal season in the NHL, one more than Gretzky, who had 12 in his 20-year career before retiring in 1999.

Credit: Washington Capitals

“Yeah, it’s a pretty cool moment,” Ovechkin said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of record it is. It’s a record, you know? I’m just trying to enjoy my time, trying to do my best.”

Ovechkin, a 37-year-old left wing, scored his 40th goal of the season at 5:12 of the first period when his backdoor pass for Dylan Strome deflected in off the stick of Blue Jackets defenseman Nick Blankenburg. Ovechkin has scored at least 40 goals in all but three of his 16 full NHL seasons. He scored 32 goals in 48 games in 2012-13 when the season was shortened because of a lockout and 24 goals in 45 games in 2020-21 when the season was paused due to coronavirus concerns.

This is Ovechkin’s sixth 40-goal season since he turned 30 years old, passing Phil Esposito for the most in NHL history. Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said, “He’s been doing it every year consistently since he came into the League, and [there] doesn’t seem to be any slow down in him. He plays fast, he plays hard. … Realizing that there’s a chance to make a difference in the game, that’s what he’s really good at it. But for me, the consistency part of it is to be able to do that year in and year out.”

Ovechkin, who has four goals in his past four games, was playing in his 66th game this season, putting him on pace to finish with 46 goals. He missed four games from Feb. 14-21 to return home to Russia following the death of his father, Mikhail, who died at 71. He also missed games on Jan. 21 and March 14 because of a lower-body injury.

If Ovechkin scores 10 more goals in Washington’s final 10 games, he will pass Gretzky and Mike Bossy for the most 50-goal seasons with 10.

Earlier this season, Ovechkin tied Mike Gartner for the most 30-goal seasons in NHL history with 17 when he scored in a 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 14. He also passed Gordie Howe for second in NHL history when he scored his 802nd goal in a 4-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 23.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/EditorEditor-in-Chief

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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