Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin ranks, reacts to his top 10 career goals

ARLINGTON, Va. — Batting the puck out of midair in Pittsburgh.

The spin-o-rama against Montreal.

“The Goal” in Arizona.

They all counted the same for Alex Ovechkin, who could pass Gordie Howe for second all-time any day now, needing just one to catch Mr. Hockey and two to pass the Red Wings great entering Saturday’s game against the Maple Leafs.

Some of Ovechkin’s 800 goals, though, were clearly more special than others.

Timeless even.

Earlier this week, the NHL tweeted out its list of Ovechkin’s top 10 goals.

On Friday, I sat down with the Capitals captain at Washington’s headquarters and asked him what he recalled about each one.

I also had him put the goals in his preferred order.

It’s important to note that Ovechkin agreed with the NHL’s choice of his all-time goals, with one exception. The order? Well, that was a different story.


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Ovechkin’s choice for No. 2 surprised me, and it might surprise you, too. No. 10 wasn’t on the league’s list at all. No. 1? Well, you can probably guess the goal he picked for the top spot.

I found it interesting that Ovechkin recalled details surrounding each goal, such as the defenseman on the play, the goalie, the score, if it was his first goal of the season or 500th point. Still, re-ranking the list wasn’t an easy exercise for him. He rewound the goals on my laptop on a few occasions and, twice, he changed his mind as I jotted down his answers.

But Ovechkin eventually settled on the order that he considers correct.

And here it is.

10. May 1, 2018

Opponent: Pittsburgh (road)

NHL rank: Not ranked

Ovechkin’s take: “Of course that goal deserves to be in,” he said incredulously. “It was a long shift (1 minute, 26 seconds) and a game-winner. It was late (67 seconds remaining). Has to be in there.”

9. Feb. 4, 2010

Opponent: New York Rangers (road)

NHL rank: 8

Ovechkin’s take: “I don’t know why I had one hand,” he said, laughing. “I made a move and you could see the guy just grabbed me. Sometimes goals are just luck. That was probably luck.”

Feels like a lot of your highlight goals came against the Rangers, right?

“Well, we play against them lots of times,” he shot back sarcastically, “So everyone once in a while you’re going to have some highlights.”

8. Oct. 10, 2015

Opponent: New Jersey (home)

NHL rank: 6

Ovechkin’s take: “My first goal of the year (en route to a league-best 50),” he said. “I tried to make a move and put it on the top shelf. When you get close to the goalie, they think the puck is not going to go high, more like middle. That’s why they put the glove down and I shoot high.”

7. Dec. 26, 2008

Opponent: Buffalo (home)

NHL rank: 7

Ovechkin’s take: “I make a move and stay with it,” he said. “The goalie thought I was going to make another move. He probably thought I was going to shoot high and it goes five-hole.”

6. Dec. 20, 2014

Opponent: New Jersey (road)

NHL rank: 4

Ovechkin’s take: “I had full speed and put the puck through my skates,” he said. “At first, I didn’t see if the puck went in or not. But the referee was right there and I saw that he pointed it was a goal. I was happy but kinda surprised. That was a nice one, for sure.”

5. May 2, 2015

Opponent: New York Rangers (road)

NHL rank: 5

Ovechkin’s take: “Against Rangers in the playoffs,” he said. “This was a good one.”

Looks like you got tripped, hooked, slashed, or all three, right?

“Who cares?” he fired back with a grin. “I scored the goal.”

4. April 24, 2009

Opponent: New York Rangers (home)

NHL rank: 3

Ovechkin’s take:ooh, this is a good one, too,” he began. “Rangers again. You can see, as well, (Henrik) Lundqvist thought it was going to be high. Sometimes the goalie is guessing. He probably thought I was going to go glove side and he probably left his stick a little bit high. I went five-hole.”

3. Feb. 18, 2009

Opponent: Montreal (home)

NHL rank: 2

Ovechkin’s take: “This definitely was a lucky one because I fell down when I shot it,” he said with a chuckle. “But it was a nice move on (Roman) Hamrlik.”

You later played with Roman. Did it ever come up?

“Yeah, he was laughing about it.”

2. Jan. 19, 2006

Opponent: St. Louis (home)

NHL rank: 9

Ovechkin’s take: “This was right after ‘The Goal,'” he said. “Obviously, I had full speed and made a good move. It was a totally different game than now. It was more wide open. Now it’s now more compact.”

1. Jan. 16, 2006

Goal: Arizona (road)

NHL rank: 1

Ovechkin’s take: “It’s funny, nobody thought this was going to beThe Goal,’” he said with a shrug. “We got back from the road trip and I had to go to ESPN studio and explain. I was thinking they wanted to talk about that goal? I didn’t know (then) it was going to be so famous. No idea. But now when I look at it, it was a special moment.”

(Illustration: John Bradford / The Athletic; Photos: Getty Images, G Fiume, Roy K Miller / Icon Sportswire, Gregory Shamus, John McDonnel / The Washington Post)


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