We started the break week for the Washington Capitals by taking our first look at Alex Ovechkin’s goal-scoring career by the months. Having looked at January, a work still in progress with the Caps having three more games on the January slate this season, we turn to the shortest month of the calendar – February.
February by the Numbers
It might be the shortest month of the calendar year, but it is not a month lacking in goal-scoring highlights in Alex Ovechkin’s career. Ovechkin has taken the ice 159 times in February over his career, and here are some of the most noteworthy facts and numbers with respect to his goal-scoring performance:
- 93. Ovechkin has scored 93 goals in February over 14 years. That number ranks 15th in the NHL among all players since 1979-1980. With an average month in February 2020 (seven goals), he would become the 12th player to reach 100 goals in February since 1979-1980.
- 73. In 395 days of February in Ovechkin’s career, he has goals on 73 of those days, 18.5 percent of all the calendar days available.
- 1. Only once in Ovechkin’s career have the Caps had a game scheduled on a February 29th. That came in 2008 against the New Jersey Devils. Washington beat the Devils, 4-0, but Ovechkin did not record a goal. He did have an assist in the contest.
- 2. In addition to February 29th, there is one other date on the month’s calendar on which Ovechkin has not yet recorded a goal – February 3rd. He will not have a chance to remedy that this season, the Caps scheduled for games on the 2nd (hosting Pittsburgh) and 4th (hosting the Los Angeles Kings).
- 5. One day among the dates in February has been especially popular for Ovechkin scoring goals. Five times on February 7th he posted goals: 2010 (a hat trick against Pittsburgh; more on that below), 2012 (two goals against Florida), 2013 (against Pittsburgh), 2016 (against Philadelphia), and 2017 (against Carolina).
- 12. Twice in his career, Ovechkin scored 12 goals in a February (2009 and 2016). The fewest goals he had in a February was three, which occurred in three years (2006, 2014, and 2017).
- 9. In 2016, Ovechkin posted goals on nine different dates in February, most of any year.
- 24. The number of opponents Ovechkin has scored against in February. Florida has been the most frequent victim, allowing Ovechkin 12 goals in February games over his career. Ovechkin has not yet scored a February goal against: Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks, or Vegas Golden Knights.
- 46. Ovechkin has 46 goals scored on home ice in February.
- 47. Of his 93 totals goals scored in February, 47 of them have been scored on the road.
- 15. Ovechkin has recorded 15 multi-goal games in February games. He has done so twice in five years: 2009, 2010, 2015, 2016, and 2018. He did not record a multi-goal game in February in three years: 2011, 2014, and 2017.
- 5. Of his 15 multi-goal games in February, five of them represent hat tricks for Ovechkin: 2009 (twice, against Ottawa and Florida), 2010 (against Pittsburgh), 2013 (against New Jersey), and 2016 (against Minnesota).
- 200. Ovechkin recorded his 200th career goal in a 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on February 5, 2009.
- 7. Seven times in the month of February over his career, Ovechkin scored goals on consecutive days (2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2018, and 2019). In five of those instances, one of the games was a multi-goal game (all years except 2006 and 2018), and once he had a hat trick in a game following scoring a goal the previous day (February 15, 2009 against Florida).
The Highlight Game
There is one game that stands head and shoulders above the others of February in Alex Ovechkin’s career. That came on February 7, 2010, against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The “Snowvechkin” Game.
Ovechkin came into the Super Bowl Sunday matinee against Pittsburgh on fire, carrying a four-game goal scoring streak and goals in ten of his previous 13 games (a total of 12 goals). One wondered, however, if he would get a chance to extend his season-best goal scoring streak to five games, given that Mother Nature dumped almost 18 inches of snow on Washington over the previous 48 hours and was threatening to hit the area with even more.
It was not easy on the visitors, either, the Penguins having to fly out of Montreal the previous day after playing the Canadiens to Newark, NJ, where they caught a bus to Washington, finally arriving at two in the morning.
The travel hassles were not sufficiently disagreeable to the Penguins to start the contest. Sidney Crosby scored goals three minutes apart in the first ten minutes of the game to stake the Pens to a 2-0 lead. The Caps got untracked mid-way through the second period, courtesy of a highlight reel goal from Ovechkin. A shot by Penguin defenseman Mark Eaton from the left point was muffled on its way to the net, and Jeff Schultz settled it. Looking up ice he spied Ovechkin breaking behind the Penguin defense, and he sent the puck up the middle, hitting Ovechkin in stride for a breakaway. Skating in on goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, Ovechkin snapped the puck between Fleury’s pads and shattered the goal-cam anchored to the back of the net to make it a 2-1 game.
Pittsburgh got a pair of goals from Jordan Staal less than two minutes apart later in the period to give the Penguins a 4-1 lead, and for many Caps fans braving the elements to attend the game, it might have seemed a fruitless endeavor. Eric Fehr got the Caps back within a goal with a marker late in the period, but the Caps still faced a two-goal deficit heading to the final 20 minutes.
The Pens held off the Caps for almost seven minutes to open the period before Ovechkin struck again. A Tom Poti shot from just inside the blue line was stopped on its way to Fleury, but the puck found its way to Ovechkin’s feet. Wasting no time, Ovechkin backhanded the puck through the legs of future teammate Brooks Orpik and past Fleury to make it 4-3, 6:51 into the period.
Ovechkin brought the Caps all the way back just over four minutes later. Nicklas Backstrom tied up Crosby off a faceoff to the left of Fleury, and the puck made its way to Ovechkin at the edge of the right wing faceoff circle. He snapped the puck past Fleury before the goalie could flinch, Ovechkin finishing the hat trick and the Caps tying the game, 4-4, 11:06 into the period.
Ovechkin might have been done with the goal scoring portion of his game. With Orpik off the ice for high-sticking Alexander Semin, Mike Green fed Ovechkin for a one-timer from just inside the top of the left wing circle. The shot beat Fleury, but it struck the post to the far side. Fleury could not locate the loose puck lying within reach, but Mike Knuble could, poking it under Fleury and just over the goal line to complete the 5-4 comeback win under a blanket of snow before a national television audience.
If that was the highlight game of Alex Ovechkin’s career in the month of February, one has to pay some respect to what might be the most amazing goal of his career, even more than The Goal in Phoenix against the Coyotes in January 2006. Skating at home against Montreal, a club who seems to figure often in Ovechkin highlights, on February 18, 2009, Ovechkin turned a Montreal mistake into a highlight.
Mike Komisarek tried to send a long cross-ice pass out of his own end to Roman Hamrlik, but the pass was too long. Taking the puck off the boards near the visitors’ penalty box, Ovechkin banked the puck back off the boards while spinning to reverse direction. Collecting the puck behind Hamrlik, who was caught flatfooted along the boards, Ovechkin sped into the offensive zone with Kyle Chipchura trying to cut off Ovechkin’s angle of attack. Ovechkin leaned into Chipchura to ward him off, and as he was tumbling to the ice and sliding on his backside into the crease, he scooped the puck past the right pad of goalie Carey Price for a goal that Caps’ play-by-play announcer Joe Beninati described as “absolutely brilliant.” It had everything... opportunity, improvisation, athletic skill, speed, strength, determination, and not a little bit of showmanship at the end. This goal, as much as any other, wraps Ovechkin’s career up in a bow.