On October 12, 2005, Alex Ovechkin suited up for his first career game against the Carolina Hurricanes. And, to no one’s surprise at this point in his career, he opened the scoring in that game with a goal 10:28 into the first period.
Unfortunately, the Caps, who were in the midst of their rebuilding phase, took it on the chin from the Hurricanes, a team that would go on to win the Stanley Cup in that 2005-2006 season, 7-2. But Ovechkin and the Caps would improve their records against the ‘Canes with the passage of time.
Ovechkin is now on the brink of appearing in his 82nd game against the Hurricanes, a full season’s worth of contests and the most regular season games he has played against any opponent in his storied career. He is 43-52-95, plus-3, in the 81 games he faced Carolina to date and is the all-time leader for the Caps in almost every statistical category…
- Games: 81 (Nicklas Backstrom: 61)
- Goals: 43 (Peter Bondra: 32)
- Assists: 52 (Nicklas Backstrom: 46)
- Points: 95 (Backstrom: 61)
- Points-Per-Game (minimum: 15 games): 1.17 (tied with Bengt-Ake Gustafsson)
- Even Strength Goals: 29 (Alexander Semin: 19)
- Power Play Goals: 14 (Bondra: 11)
- Power-Play Assists: 25 (Backstrom: 23)
- Power Play Points: 39 (Backstrom: 26)
- Power Play Shots on Goal: 111 (Semin: 37)
- Overtime Goals: 2 (tied with Mike Green)
- Game-Winning Goals: 9 (Bondra: 6)
- Shots on Goal: 398 (Bondra: 198)
- Credited Hits: 217 (Tom Wilson: 78)
- Giveaways: 71 (Green: 41)
- Takeaways: 71 (Backstrom: 54)
- First Goals: 8 (Bondra: 5)
- Empty-Net Goals: 2 (tied with Backstrom and Chris Clark)
- Total Time on Ice: 1,677:15 (Backstrom: 1,197:55)
Facts to Impress Your Friends and Confound Your Enemies:
- That first game Ovechkin played against Carolina also happened to be the one in which he logged the least ice time – 13:53 – in a full game against the Hurricanes (he skated 3:08 in a game on November 30, 2009, in which he was injured on a knee-on-knee collision with Tim Gleason).
- The Caps are 47-27-7 in the 81 games Ovechkin has played against the Hurricanes.
- Ovechkin giveth, and he taketh away. In equal measure, it turns out. He has 71 giveaways and 71 takeaways against Carolina in his career.
- He is the all-time leader in shootout attempts against Carolina. He is 2-for-7 (tied with Nicklas Backstrom for most shootout goals against the Hurricanes) in the freestyle phase.
- Ovechkin has goals in 34 of the 81 games he has played against Carolina, eight of them multi-goal games, and he has one hat trick.
- He has points in 59 of 81 games against Carolina to date, 28 of them multi-point games, and he has eight three-point games.
- Ovechkin is 18-28-46, plus-3, in 42 career games against Carolina on home ice; six of those 18 goals are game-winners. He is 25-24-49, even, in 39 games on the road against the Hurricanes.
- He has 41 goals scored against ten Hurricane goalies (he also has two empty net goals):
Cam Ward (19)
John Grahame (5)
Petr Mrazek (4)
Eddie Lack (3)
Scott Darling (3)
Anton Khudobin (2)
Dan Ellis (2)
Justin Peters (1)
Michael Leighton (1)
Martin Gerber (1)
- By period, Ovechkin has 15 first period goals, 12 second period goals, 14 third period goals, and two goals scored in overtime against Carolina.
- Major milestone goals scored by Ovechkin against Carolina include:
December 20, 2013, Ovechkin scored his 400th career goal in a 4-2 win over Carolina.
March 26, 2019, Ovechkin scored his 656th career goal in a 4-1 win over Carolina, tying Brendan Shanahan for 13th place on the all-time list.
January 13, 2020, Ovechkin scored his 685th career goal in a 2-0 win over the Hurricanes (he scored both goals in the win), passing Teemu Selanne for 11th place all-time in goal scoring.
Five Memorable Games
January 2, 2018. The Caps started the new year with a matchup in Carolina against the Hurricanes. Washington went into the game with a recent trend of going to extra time to settle scores, going to extra time in five of seven games going into this matchup. They would make it six of eight in this one. After falling behind to open the game, the Caps came back with three goals to take a 3-1 lead, but they gave it all back and then some, falling behind on three straight Carolina goals. Ovechkin would get the Caps even with a goal 12:45 into the third period to force overtime. In the extra session, Sebastian Aho hit the post for the Hurricanes in the second minute of overtime. Nicklas Backstrom collected the loose puck at the defensive blue line and fed it back to Ovechkin. And then this happened...
The odd part of this was that it was Ovechkin’s third game-winning score in extra time in the space of those six extra time games. He scored in overtime to beat Anaheim, 3-2, on December 16th, and he had the shootout game deciding goal against Boston in a 4-3 win on December 28th.
December 14, 2018. Ovechkin recorded his first and only hat trick against Carolina in a mid-December matchup in 2018. Carolina opened the scoring less than a minute into the contest, but Ovechkin knotted the score, 1-1, three minutes later, a one-timer off a feed from Jonas Siegenthaler. Carolina scored three special teams goals – two power play goals and a shorthanded goal, to take a 4-1 lead. But the Caps scored three of their own in a span of less than six minutes to tie the game, Ovechkin getting the middle goal in that barrage. Ovechkin scored a power play goal to complete the hat trick mid-way through the third period to give the Caps the lead. Although Carolina would tie the game four minutes later, the Caps won in a six-round shootout, 6-5. What made this hat trick memorable for Ovechkin was that it was his second consecutive game with a hat trick, having come off a three-goal effort in a 6-2 win on December 11th. It would be the fifth game in a six-game goal streak in which he potted ten goals, and it was the second time he recorded hat tricks in consecutive games, a feat he has accomplished three times.
April 5, 2006. Odd that a game not featuring a goal by Ovechkin would be included here, but this game was special in other respects. The Caps rode a three goal third period to force extra time before losing early in a shootout to the Hurricanes, 4-3, but Ovechkin managed to post a pair of assists in the contest, his 49th and 50th of the season, becoming the 18th rookie in league history to record 50 or more assists (he finished with 54 for the season). He also logged 29:02 in ice time in this contest, the most he has had in any regular season game against Carolina.
October 7, 2006. The second game of Ovechkin’s sophomore season gave fans a taste of what a fully engaged Ovechkin would look like. The teams took a 2-2 tie into the third period, but Ovechkin ripped a wrist shot past Cam Ward’s glove to give the Caps the lead, and then he doubled the lead with a nifty redirect of a Brian Pothier drive to make it a 4-2 game. The Caps went on to win, 5-2, and in the win Ovechkin went 2-0-2, plus-2, with six credited hits, two takeaways, and 15 shots on goal, setting a high-water mark (since tied) for shots on goal against Carolina.
January 13, 2020. The mid-January matchup between these teams is the last regular season game to date between the clubs, and it would be memorable for Ovechkin. He went into this contest with 684 career goals, tied with Teemu Selanne for 11th place on the all-time NHL goal scoring list. Ovechkin wasted little time breaking the tie, cutting across the middle to take a feed from Tom Wilson and snapping the puck past Petr Mrazek to give the Caps a lead 11:58 into the game and breaking his tie with Selanne.
Just over five minutes later, Ovechkin added a goal for good measure as he set his sights on running down Mario Lemieux for 10th place on the all-time list.
Alex Ovechkin has made life difficult for all of the opponents he has faced over his career, but perhaps none more than the Carolina Hurricanes, against whom he is about to complete what amounts to a full season of regular season games in his career. His accomplishments against this team are not limited to goal scoring, and he has used the Hurricanes as a foil as he hits career milestones along the way. It is a slice of his career that deserves special attention and respect for the range of accomplishments he has achieved.