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Sweet Sixteen, Part II - The Collection of Alex Ovechkin Hat Tricks

In Part II of our look back through the history of Alex Ovechkin hat tricks, we get a fuller picture of just how special his career has been, and examine some fascinating numbers surrounding his hat trick performances.

St Louis Blues v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Earlier this week we took a look at the first eight of Alex Ovechkin’s 16 career regular season hat tricks, taking us from his rookie season into the 2008-09 season. The second set of eight hat tricks starts in the 2009-2010 season with a special night against an old rival.

Hat Trick #9 – February 7, 2010, Washington Capitals 5 – Pittsburgh Penguins 4 (OT)

The Context… So much was going on in the run-up to this game. The Capitals were running away with the Eastern Conference, leading the New Jersey Devils by 12 standings points and owning a 13-game winning streak as February 7th dawned. The Penguins arrived in Washington, if not as hot as the Caps, then with a respectable enough 7-4-0 record in their previous 11 games.

There was some doubt that the game would be held, though. An historic winter storm, dubbed “Snowmageddon,” paralyzed the region that weekend. Not enough to prevent the Caps and Penguins from facing off at noon, though. And it certainly didn’t seem capable of cooling off Ovechkin, who went into the game with a four-game goal streak and 12 goals in his previous 13 games.

The Goals… In the first period of this game against the Penguins, it looked as if it would be Alex Ovechkin’s nemesis, Sidney Crosby, who would be recording the hat trick. Crosby scored a pair of goals three minutes apart in the first period to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead before the game was ten minutes old. Stopping any further bleeding, the Caps went to the first intermission still trailing by that 2-0 margin. Nine minutes into the second period, Ovechkin halved the Penguin lead, taking a long lead pass from Jeff Schultz and beating goalie Marc-Andre Fleury on a breakaway.

Things looked grim for the Caps after that as Jordan Staal potted a pair of goals less than two minutes apart to give the Pens a 4-1 lead 13 minutes into the second period. Eric Fehr got the Caps within a pair before the end of the second intermission, setting the stage for an Ovechkin-fueled comeback in the third. He got the Caps within a goal 6:51 into the period when he tried to redirect a Tom Poti drive, missed, but put in the rebound on a backhand past Fleury. Four minutes later, he tied the game and completed the hat trick off a faceoff win by Nicklas Backstrom on Crosby. Backstrom tied up Crosby and kicked the puck back to Ovechkin, who one-timed the puck past Fleury from the top of the right wing circle.

It was enough to get the Caps to overtime, where they won it on a Mike Knuble goal in one of the most memorable games in Caps history.

Hat Trick #10… January 22, 2010, Washington Capitals 4 – Toronto Maple Leafs 1

The Context… All of the good feelings that came with defeating the Penguins in the New Year’s Day Winter Classic faded soon after, as the Caps went 3-2-3 in the eight games that preceded it before heading to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs. For their part, the Leafs were alternating streaks, following up a four-game winning streak with a three-game losing streak before beating The Anaheim Ducks in the game before the Caps arrived in town. Ovechkin was in a bit of a slump going into that game, recording only two goals in nine games and four in 19 games before taking the ice at Air Canada Centre.

The goals… Ovechkin got the Caps on the board late in the first period on a delayed penalty to the Maple Leafs when he redirected a Jeff Schultz drive past goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere. That would be all the scoring until early in the third period when Ovechkin struck again. After Nicklas Backstrom won a draw in the Toronto end, the Caps applied pressure with Ovechkin and Mike Green getting shots off in the seconds following the faceoff win. Green’s shot was blocked by defenseman Dion Phaneuf, but Ovechkin was right there to put back the rebound, and the Caps had a 2-0 lead 1:12 into the third period.

After the teams exchanged goals to make it a 3-1 game, Toronto pulled their goalie late to try to close the gap. Going all in on the offensive end, the Leafs were caught deep as the puck skittered around the end wall up the left wing boards. Ovechkin gave chase, beating defenseman Tomas Kaberle to the puck, curling around Phaneuf, and sweeping the puck into the empty net for the hat trick with 23.5 seconds left to seal the win.

Hat Trick #11 – February 23, 2013, Washington Capitals 5 – New Jersey Devils 1

The Context… Washington stumbled out of the gate to start the delayed 2012-2013 season. With a 5-10-1 record one-third through the abbreviated schedule, the Caps were last in the Southeast Division standings and at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. The Devils were at the other end of the spectrum, leading the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference with a 10-3-4 record, that tenth win coming at the expense of the Caps, 3-2, in the front-end of a rare away-and-away set of consecutive games at Verizon Center. Ovechkin was as cold as the Caps going into the second game of the two-game set with the Devils, posting only five goals in 16 games to open the season.

The goals… The teams played to a scoreless first period, but the Caps broke the jam in the second. Mike Ribeiro skated down the middle, drawing two Devil defenders to him, then slid the puck off to Ovechkin in the left wing circle for a one-timer that beat goalie Johan Hedberg 5:20 into the period. Ilya Kovalchuk scored to tie the game going into the second intermission, leaving the third period to decide the outcome. It was all Caps in the third. Ovechkin got them started 1:23 into the final frame when he took a long cross ice pass from Matt Hendricks just outside the Devils’ blue line, backed off defenseman Anton Volchenkov, then used Volchenkov as a screen from the top of the right wing circle to beat Hedberg on the long side to make it 2-1.

After Eric Fehr extended the Caps’ lead a little over two minutes later, special teams went to work. With Stefan Matteau in the penalty box and the Caps on a power play, Nicklas Backstrom worked the puck down the right wing wall and fed Mike Ribeiro at the goal line extended to Hedberg’s left. Ribeiro found Ovechkin sneaking in on the back side for a one-timer that had Hedberg looking around for the puck as the goal horn sounded at the 15:13 mark to complete the hat trick. Troy Brouwer finished the scoring with another power play goal two minutes later to wrap up the four-goal period and the 5-1 win.

Hat Trick #12 – April 6, 2013, Washington Capitals 4 – Florida Panthers 3

The Context… the Capitals were starting to make a late-season push to get into the playoffs. After losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2-1, on March 19th, the Caps went 7-1-1 in their next nine games leading up to their contest in Florida against the Panthers, climbing into a tie with the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the Southeast Division. Florida, on the other hand, was hanging by a thread in the playoff race.

Mired in fifth place in the division, eight points behind the Caps and Jets, they were on a three-game winning streak, all of the wins in extra time, going into their game against Washington. Ovechkin went into this game with goals in eight of his previous ten games, ten goals in all. He also had goals in each of his previous three games against the Panthers for the season.

The goals… Putting the Caps on a power play in the Ovechkin era has (almost) always been dangerous; putting them on a five-minute man advantage, only more so. Such was the case late in the first period of this game when Erik Gudbranson was sent off for boarding Martin Erat, earning him a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Ovechkin scored the game’s first goal a little over two minutes into the power play, converting a feed from Mike Ribeiro across the goal crease into a one-timer that beat goalie Jacob Markstrom 15:45 into the period. Ribeiro scored one of his own 43 seconds into the middle frame to put the good guys up by two.

Then it was Ovechkin’s turn again. Not two minutes after Ribeiro’s goal, Nicklas Backstrom fed Ovechkin cutting hard to the middle at the Panther blue line. Ovechkin tried to fake an old move on an old victim, winding up as if to use defenseman Filip Kuba as a screen for a snap shot, but then trying to deke around him. The puck squirted free, but Ovechkin got past Kuba to gather it up and sweep it over Markstrom’s left shoulder from the bottom of the right wing circle to make it 3-0, 2:24 into the period.

Ovechkin picked up the hat trick goal on a power play about 12 minutes later. Nicklas Backstrom started the play by faking shot and feeding Marcus Johansson at the goal line to Markstrom’s left. Johansson one-timed the puck out to Ovechkin on the opposite wing, and Ovechkin applied his own one-timer to beat Markstrom on the short side to put the Caps up, 4-0. When the Panthers scored three third period goals, that hat trick goal would prove to be the game-winner in the 4-3 Caps win.

Hat Trick #13 – December 10, 2013, Washington Capitals 6 – Tampa Bay Lightning 5 (OT/SO)

The Context… The Caps were slumping as they headed into Thanksgiving, losers of four straight games, but they came out of the holiday break on a roll, winning four of five before facing Tampa Bay at Verizon Center and climbing into second place in the Metropolitan Division behind the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Lightning could claim no such rebound in fortune. They were 3-5-2 in ten games and slipped to fourth in the Atlantic Division leading up to their contest against the Caps. Ovechkin was typically productive and typically consistent going into this game. In 28 games before this one he had goals in 17 games, 22 goals in all.

The goals… Tampa Bay jumped on the Caps early, running out to a 3-0 lead before the contest was 12 minutes old. Ovechkin stopped the bleeding at the 14:15 mark with his 23rd goal of the season, drilling a shot off a clean faceoff win by Nicklas Backstrom past goalie Ben Bishop’s blocker. The teams exchanged goals over the first 12 minutes of the second period to make it a 4-2 game.

Ovechkin got the Caps even with power-play scores 2:10 apart late in the third period as the Lightning were trying to kill a five-minute major to Richard Panik for boarding. The first came as the Caps worked the puck along the edge on the right side, John Carlson at the right point to Nicklas Backstrom along the far edge of the right wing circle to Marcus Johansson low to Bishop’s left. It drew the attention of the Lightning to that side of the ice, allowing Ovechkin to sneak in on the weak side to one time a feed from Johansson past Bishop to make it 4-3. Then, Ovechkin and Mike Green worked the puck back and forth, Ovechkin one-timing a feed from Green from the dot in the left wing circle past Bishop to complete the hat trick and tie the game going into the second intermission.

Ovechkin was not done, though. Ondrej Palat restored the Tampa Bay lead eight minutes into the third period, and it looked as if it might be enough for the Lightning to escape Washington. However, with the game in the last minute, Backstrom sent a cross-ice pass to Ovechkin at the top of the left wing circle, and his one-timer beat Bishop through a screen with 32.4 seconds left for his fourth goal of the game that sent the game to overtime. The clubs did not settle things in the extra session and took ten round in the shootout, Troy Brouwer’s goal in the tenth round clinching the 6-5 come-from-behind win.

Hat Trick #14 – February 11, 2016, Washington Capitals 4 – Minnesota Wild 3

The Context… The Caps were coasting along with a 39-9-4 record, the best record in the league, and looking to post their fifth winning streak of the season of five or more games with a win over the Wild in Minnesota. The Wild were headed in the other direction. After going a season high 11 games over .500 with a win over the Dallas Stars on January 9th, Minnesota went 1-9-2 in their next dozen games leading up to the meeting with the Caps and had not won a home game in more than six weeks (a 3-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on December 28th).

Ovechkin went into this game not having gone more than two games without a goal since early December, posting 17 goals in 21 games leading up to this contest.

The Goals… There was no scoring in the first period of this game, but the Caps and Ovechkin made up for it in the middle frame. Ovechkin got the Caps on the board early in the second by finishing a fine passing sequence. Ovechkin started it by feeding Nicklas Backstrom in the right wing circle. Backstrom left the puck for T.J. Oshie coming off the bench. Oshie’s shot from the right side was blocked by Zach Parise, but the puck found its way onto Ovechkin’s stick after Ovechkin crept down to the bottom of the left wing circle. He was in perfect position to tuck a shot behind goalie Devan Dubnyk 2:14 into the period.

Three minutes later, with Thomas Vanek in the penalty box on a slashing call, Backstrom fed John Carlson at the top of the offensive zone for a one-timer. The shot went wide to Dubnyk’s right, but the puck rebounded off the end wall right onto Ovechkin’s stick for a put-back at the 5:21 mark.

After Charlie Coyle got the Wild on the board mid-way through the period, Ovechkin completed the hat trick. Backstrom started the scoring sequence with a shot that Dubnyk gloved down but could not control. With the puck lying to Dubnyk’s left, Ovechkin pounced, and with his second swipe at it, he rang it off the pipe and the back of Dubnyk’s left leg into the net to make it 3-1. Minnesota got within a goal twice in the third period but could not get the equalizer in the Caps’ 4-3 win.

Hat Trick #15 – April 9, 2016, Washington Capitals 5 – St. Louis Blues 1

The Context… With the regular season winding down, the Caps carried the league’s best record into their penultimate regular season contest in St. Louis. Not that the Caps were ending things on a roll. They went into this game on a three-game losing streak, their longest of the season. For the Blues, it was their last regular season game, one they would go into on a three-game winning streak and in search of their fourth 50-win season in franchise history and third in a row. Ovechkin went into this game with four goals in his previous four games, but still three goals short of his seventh 50-goal season.

The Goals… The Caps fell behind early when the Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko scored just 75 seconds into the contest. It served as a bit of a wake-up call for the Caps, who tied the game less than three minutes later when Ovechkin scored his first of the contest. John Carlson settled a pass in his skates from Nicklas Backstrom, then fed Ovechkin at the bottom of the left wing circle for a one-timer than beat goalie Brian Elliott on the short side at 4:04 of the period.

Less than three minutes later, Ovechkin scored again. Off a faceoff to the left of Elliott, Robby Fabbri thought he was in position to collect the puck and head up ice. Ovechkin relieved him of that notion, pilfering the puck and snapping it from the edge of the right wing circle past Elliott to give the Caps a 2-1 lead at the 6:49 mark.

The one-goal advantage held until the second period, when it jumped to 4-1 courtesy of goals by Carlson and Jason Chimera. That left the third period and the last remaining bit of suspense, whether Ovechkin would record the hat trick and hit the 50-goal mark. Midway through the period, fans had their answer.

Off a steal in the neutral zone, Backstrom skated into the St. Louis end with Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie on a 3-on-2 break. Backstrom bypassed Oshie heading to the net in favor of a pass to Ovechkin on the left side, and Ovechkin’s one-timer beat relief goalie Anders Nilsson on the short side, putting an exclamation point on the Caps’ 5-1 win.

And that brings us to...

Hat Trick #16 – November 23, 2016, Washington Capitals 4 – St. Louis Blues 3

The Context… The Caps got off to a somewhat uneven start to the 2016-17 campaign, posting a record of 3-2-1 in their first six games. After that, however, they started to find their stride, going 8-3-1 in their next dozen games leading up to their meeting with St. Louis. The Blues’ rocky start extended a bit further into the season, with a 7-6-3 record overall but arriving in Washington on a four-game winning streak.

Ovechkin’s production was streaky to start the season, going his first two games without a goal, followed by a four-game goal streak, then a three-game streak without one. So it went, with Ovechkin going into the game against the Blues with nine goals in 18 games, but only one of them was a multi-goal game (two goals in a 4-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets on November 3).

The goals… Ovechkin opened the scoring late in the first period on a power play. Nicklas Backstrom started the play by working the puck down the right wing wall, then back up the wall before feeding Evgeny Kuznetsov low to the left of goalie Carter Hutton. Kuznetsov sent the puck through the middle to Ovechkin at the dot in the left wing circle. Settling the puck, Ovechkin worked it around defenseman Colton Pareyko and wristed a shot over Hutton’s glove on the far side at the 17:28 mark.

Ovechkin doubled the Caps’ lead mid-way through the second when, failing to convert a one-timer off a pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov seconds earlier, converted his second chance at a one-timer off a feed from John Carlson. After Kuznetsov and Vladimir Tarasenko exchanged goals, the Caps had a 3-1 lead in the third period.

That lead expanded to 4-1 thanks to a(nother) highlight reel goal by Ovechkin. The Blues won a faceoff in the Caps’ end, but the puck was misplayed onto the stick of Ovechkin at the Caps’ blue line. Ovechkin sped up the left side with Andre Burakovsky on his right and only Jay Bouwmeester back for the Blues. Bouwmeester tried to lay out to force Ovechkin wide or deny him a pass to Burakovsky, but Ovechkin just rifled a shot over the left elbow of Hutton, off the crossbar and into the net to give the Caps a 4-1 lead. It would be the game-winning goal when the Blues scored a pair of late goals in the Caps’ 4-3 win.

Having looked at the games, it is fascinating to look at Ovechkin’s hat tricks by the numbers:

16: Number of career hat tricks

16: Number of Capitals wins in hat trick games

51: Total goals scored among the 16 hat tricks

48.6: Ovechkin’s shooting percentage in hat trick games (51 goals on 105 shots)

6.56: Average shots per game in hat trick games

59: Total number of points recorded in hat trick games (51 goals, 8 assists)

3: Number of five-point games in the hat trick collection, all of them against teams from what was the old “Adams Division” (4-1-5 at the Ottawa Senators on December 29, 2007; 4-1-5 against the Montreal Canadiens on January 31, 2008; and 3-2-5 against the Boston Bruins on March 3, 2008). Those three games were Ovechkin’s third, fourth, and fifth career hat trick games.

3: Number of four-goal games in the collection (at Ottawa on December 29, 2007; against Montreal on January 31, 2008; and against the Tampa Bay Lightning on December 10, 2013)

3: Number of hat tricks completed with an Ovechkin overtime goal

12: Number of overall game-winning goals in the collection

3: Empty net goals in the hat trick collection

12: Number of different teams against which Ovechkin recorded a hat trick:

  • Atlanta Thrashers (2)
  • Florida Panthers (2)
  • Ottawa Senators (2)
  • St. Louis Blues (2)
  • Boston Bruins
  • Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
  • Minnesota Wild
  • Montreal Canadiens
  • New Jersey Devils
  • Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Toronto Maple Leafs

16: number of different goalies victimized by Ovechkin in hat trick games:

  • Alex Auld (2 goals)
  • Ben Bishop (4)
  • Devan Dubnyk (3)
  • Brian Elliott (4)
  • Marc-Andre Fleury (3)
  • Martin Gerber (3)
  • Jean-Sebastien Giguere (5)
  • Johan Hedberg (3)
  • Cristobal Huet (4)
  • Carter Hutton (3)
  • Kari Lehtonen (3)
  • Jacob Markstrom (3)
  • Anders Nilsson (1)
  • Ondrej Pavelec (3)
  • Tim Thomas (2)
  • Tomas Vokoun (2)

3: Number of goalies Ovechkin scored on in two different hat trick games against two different teams (Jean-Sebastien Giguere – January 13, 2006 with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and January 22, 2011 with the Toronto Maple Leafs; Brian Elliott – February 1, 2009 with the Ottawa Senators and April 9, 2016 with St. Louis…in both of those games Elliott allowed only two of Ovechkin’s goals; and Alex Auld — March 3, 2008 with the Boston Bruins and February 1, 2009 with the Ottawa Senators; Auld allowing one of Ovechkin’s goals in each of those games).

15: Number of power play goals scored in hat trick games

0: Number of shorthanded goals scored in hat trick games

31: Ovechkin was a combined plus-31 in his 16 hat trick games

14: Fewest days between hat tricks (February 1, 2009 against Ottawa and February 15, 2009 against Florida)

793: Most days between hat tricks (December 10, 2013 against Tampa Bay and February 11, 2016 against Minnesota)

65: Fewest days needed to record three hat tricks (December 29, 2007 against Ottawa; January 31, 2008 against Montreal; and March 3, 2008 against Boston)