Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin became the 43rd player in NHL history to reach the 500-goal plateau when he buried a wicked wrist shot past Ottawa Senators netminder Andrew Hammond Sunday night, but you won’t find that goal among the 10 best of his career.
Because he possesses such a unique combination of speed, size and skill, Ovechkin has been able to score some near unfathomable goals throughout his career. There are a few you may recall that don’t find there way onto this list — his solo effort against the New York Rangers in the 2009 post-season comes to mind — but playoff tallies don’t count towards his 501 career goal total.
These are the 10 markers from Ovechkin’s 501 that stand out the most:
10. Blueline juke turns into long-distance snipe — April 9, 2013 — Goal No. 365
Ovechkin has made more than a few defenders look silly, but there’s something so great about the way he goes from deke to shot in an instant. After slipping past Michael Ryder, Ovechkin loads up and blows a wrist shot past Carey Price:
9. Sudden stop shakes Karlsson — Dec. 7, 2011 — Goal No. 310
Karlsson’s defensive acumen is up for debate, but it would have been hard to even Nick Lidstrom to defend Ovechkin on this one. The drive wide around the net shows Ovechkin’s speed and power and the sudden stop opens up a ton of room for Ovechkin to fake a slap shot before wiring a wrister home:
8. Skill and power showcased on OT winner — March 1, 2011 — Goal No. 294
The first move around Frans Nielsen is one thing, but the way Ovechkin sheds the bodycheck from Nielsen seconds later is remarkable. Not only does the hit not alter Ovechkin’s path to the net, it barely even makes him budge. The deke to end it is the cherry on top:
7. Keith falls victim to between-the-legs move — March 18, 2012 — Goal No. 331
One of Ovechkin’s signature moves is faking a cut to the middle before dragging the puck between his own legs and driving wide. When it works, it’s gorgeous, but it’s hard to pull off when he’s face-to-face with a Norris Trophy winning blueliner. In a 2012 meeting between the Blackhawks, though, Ovechkin shredded Duncan Keith with the move and finished with a quick shot past Corey Crawford:
6. Same move, better finish against the Devils — Oct. 10, 2015 — Goal No. 476
And again, Ovechkin busts out the move. Jon Merrill is no Duncan Keith, sure, but the shot is what puts this one spot ahead of the tally against the Blackhawks. The puck couldn’t have been more perfectly placed:
5. Lemieux-esque goal comes while falling against Sabres — Dec. 26, 2008 — Goal No. 186
It’s hard not to watch this and think, if even the slightest bit, about Mario Lemieux’s goals against the Boston Bruins (https://youtu.be/HR6ITTkmDqQ) and Minnesota North Stars (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEdgiPEDa8w). Ovechkin uses Henrik Tallinder’s body position to fool the defenseman and then scores while falling:
4. One-handed shot beats Lundqvist — Feb. 4, 2010 — Goal No. 257
The number players who could pull off a threatening one-handed shot is minuscule and there are even fewer who could pull it off and then score on an all-world netminder like Henrik Lundqvist. Ovechkin finds himself on that list, though:
3. Falling backhander beats Schneider blocker-side — Dec. 20, 2014 — Goal No. 437
We’re not sure what it is with Ovechkin and falling to the ice, but he makes it work. This one comes after slipping between two checks and flipping a backhander past Cory Schneider. Poor Jon Merrill makes his second appearance on this list.
2. Off the boards to himself with a spin — Feb. 18, 2009 — Goal No. 205
This is pond hockey style stuff. Ovechkin’s presence of mind to knock the puck off the boards and spin against the grain to slip a check is incredible, and the finish makes the goal that much better. For almost any other player, this would be the greatest goal of their career.
1. Falling, spinning tally against the Coyotes — Jan. 16, 2006 — Goal No. 32
There’s no other choice for the top spot.