News & Politics

What to Know as Alex Ovechkin Chases Gordie Howe for No. 2 All-Time in NHL Goals

Ovechkin can tie or surpass Howe on Thursday against Dallas. Wayne Gretzky's record is next.

Alexander Ovechkin looks to tie Gordie Howe for second in all-time goals scored. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user All-Pro Reels.

Alex Ovechkin netted his 800th goal on Tuesday, giving him a nice round number for his place on hockey’s Mount Rushmore of scoring greats. With his next goal, Ovechkin will tie Gordie Howe for second all-time in NHL goals scored; two more, and Ovi will only trail Wayne Gretzky’s heretofore untouchable 894 career goals. Here’s what to know about 800, Ovi’s quest for the next two, and beyond:

Hot Streak

Ovechkin has been on a tear recently. Number 800 was his third goal of the game on Tuesday, and he’s now scored seven goals in the last four games. He already passed Howe once this year when he scored his 787th goal on November 5 to become the all-time leading goal scorer with one team.

A Needed Jolt

Tuesday’s milestone goal was Ovi’s 20th of the year—and a much-needed shot in the arm for the Caps, who with a 15-12-4 record and 34 points are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference’s Metropolitan division. Injuries to Tom Wilson and Nicklas Backstrom contributed to a slow start of 10-12-4, but the team is trying to climb back into playoff contention and has won five straight games.

Maybe Tonight, Probably Soon

Ovi’s first chance to tie and pass Howe’s goal mark is Thursday night in DC against the Dallas Stars, who lead the Western Conference Central Division. He’s scored 11 goals in 23 career games against the Stars. If he doesn’t get it done at home against Dallas on Thursday, there’s still a good chance he does it at home as seven of their next nine games are at Capital One Arena. Dallas is the first of three at home, followed by visits by Toronto on Saturday, December 17 and Detroit on Monday, December 19.

Outpacing Howe

Ovechkin’s 18 NHL seasons have produced plenty of memorable moments. He was drafted in 2004 and scored his first two goals in his debut in on October 5, 2005. At 37 years old, the 800th goal came in his 1,305th career game.

At age 51, Howe was the first to leap to 800 goals when he scored on February 29, 1980 in his 1,748th career game. Then 52, Howe set the new all-time record of 801 goals 37 days later on April 6, 1980 in his 1,767th career game.

Mark Howe, Gordie’s youngest son and himself a Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman, recently met with Ovechkin to offer support and encouraged him to surpass Gretzky. “I said, ‘If Gordie and (his wife) Colleen were here, they’d be supporting you 100%,’ and there’s zero doubt of that,” Howe said. “I said: ‘The Howe family, we’re pulling for you. We’re rooting for you.’”

Chasing The Record

A 33-year-old Gretzky netted his 800th and 801st goals on March 20, 1994 in his 1,116th career game—189 fewer games than Ovi. Gretzky scored his 802nd goal to pass Howe for the all-time record the next game on March 23.

It only took Ovechkin 162 games to leap from 700 to 800 goals, the fastest period for any of the three players in the elite 800 club. If he can maintain that pace, he could top Gretzky in the 2024-25 season; Gretzky, who regularly watches Caps games and is in contact with Ovechkin, believes it will happen and is rooting for Ovie.

There’s Merch, Because Of Course There Is!

Ovechkin has trademarked “THE GR8 CHASE” and will be rolling out branded merchandise–complete with a special logo–celebrating his run at Gretzky’s record. The phrase, according to ESPN, is a triple entendre that references Ovechkin’s nickname (“The Great Eight”), Gretzky’s nickname (“The Great One”) and Ovechkin’s chase of history.

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