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Recapping: NHL Morning Skate for Sunday, January 19, 2020: Ovechkin continues scoring binge, Merlikins the talk of Columbus, Rookies shining in 2019-20




Alex Ovechkin scored his second hat trick in as many games to move ahead of Mario Lemieux (690) and into a tie with Steve Yzerman (692) for ninth place on the NHL’s all-time goals list.


Elvis Merzlikins became the seventh rookie goaltender in the NHL’s modern era (since 1943-44) to register three shutouts in a span of four starts.


* Blackhawks forward Dominik Kubalik became the first rookie to 20 goals in 2019-20, while his 14 tallies since Dec. 1 trail only Toronto’s Auston Matthews (18) among all players in that span.

Alex Ovechkin
scored his second hat trick in as many games and tallied his third straight multi-goal outing – a first in his NHL career – to record the 690th, 691st and 692nd regular-season goals of his NHL career. That propelled Ovechkin ahead of Mario Lemieux (690) and into a tie with Steve Yzerman (692) for ninth place on the NHL’s all-time goals list.
* The Capitals captain has scored hat tricks in consecutive games for the third time in his career, with each instance coming since his 32nd birthday (also Oct. 5-7, 2017 and Dec. 11-14, 2018).

* Ovechkin (34 years, 123 days) is one of three players in NHL history – and just the second in the past 98 years – to record consecutive hat tricks three times in his career. He joins Wayne Gretzky (3x), the NHL’s all-time goals leader with 894, and Joe Malone (4x), widely known as one of the first pure goal-scorers in League history. Both Malone (31 years, 327 days) Gretzky (23 years, 28 days) recorded their last such instances at a younger age than Ovechkin.

* Ovechkin sits eight goals shy of becoming the eighth member of the NHL’s 700-goal club. He will need to overtake two more Hall of Fame members on his way to the illustrious group.

* Ovechkin is on pace to go from 600 to 700 goals in only 157 games, which would mark the fewest games to make that leap for any member of the 700-goal club. It also would be the second-fewest games to get from one 100-goal milestone to another in his career.

* The fewest contests Ovechkin has needed to score any collection of 100 goals is 126 games – after tallying his 124th career goal Dec. 27, 2007, he netted his 224th goal Oct. 6, 2009.

* With multiple goals in three straight games and hat tricks in each of his last two, Ovechkin now is on track to reach the 700-goal mark in only 1,146 career games – which would be the second-fastest in League history. Wayne Gretzky (886 GP) and Brett Hull (1,157 GP) are the only players to hit the milestone in fewer than 1,200 games.

* Ovechkin has averaged 0.61 goals-per-game to this point in his career – to rank fifth in NHL history (min. 300 GP) – including a League-best 0.58 rate since celebrating his 30th birthday on Sept. 17, 2015. Among players in the 700-goal club, only two scored at a rate of 0.50 G/GP or higher from age 30 onward.

* The NHL Stats & Information team will be tracking Ovechkin’s pursuit of 700 goals with a “By the Numbers” document each time he passes someone on the all-time list, with the second now available.

Two of Alex Ovechkin’s three tallies came in a five-goal third period for the Capitals, who erased a three-goal deficit to capture their third straight win. Washington, which also won after it overcame a three-goal, third-period deficit on Oct. 25 at Vancouver, accomplished the feat multiple times in a single season for the first time in franchise history.

* Washington joined Pittsburgh (Nov. 7, 2019 at NYI and Nov. 27 vs. VAN) as the second team to register multiple three-goal, third-period comeback wins this season. Only one team in NHL history has posted more such victories in a single season: Minnesota North Stars (Nov. 19, 1983 vs. WIN, Nov. 26, 1983 at TOR, Nov. 29, 1983 vs. PIT and March 12, 1984 vs. MTL).

John Carlson collected two assists, including a helper on Tom Wilson’s game-tying goal to reach the 60-point mark in 2019-20 (13-47—60 in 49 GP). He required the fewest games by a defenseman in franchise history to collect 60 points in a season, besting the previous mark set by Mike Green (57 GP in 2008-09 and 2009-10). Only one blueliner in the last 26 years reached the benchmark prior to his 50th game of any campaign: Ray Bourque in 1993-94 (14-46—60 in 49 GP).
* Rookie Ilya Samsonov came in relief to start the third period and turned aside all seven shots he faced to improve to 10-0-0 in his last 10 decisions (1.60 GAA,.941 SV%, 1 SO). Only two rookie goaltenders in NHL history have strung together a longer streak: Ross Brooks (14-0-0 in 1973-74) and George Hainsworth (11-0-0 in 1926-27).


Cam Atkinson (2-1—3) recorded his second multi-point outing in as many games since returning to the lineup, while Elvis Merzlikins (2.36 GAA, .928 SV %, 3 SO) turned aside all 41 shots he faced to register his third shutout in four contests. In the process, the Blue Jackets (25-16-8, 58 points) moved past the Hurricanes (27-18-3, 57 points) for the first Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.
* The Blue Jackets’ rise in the standings has benefited from the turn of the calendar, including a 7-2-0 mark in in nine contests since Jan. 1 – second only to the Lightning (8-2-0), who have made a surge of their own. In that span, they’ve defeated the Atlantic Division-leading Bruins twice (Jan. 2 and Jan. 14) and the aforementioned Hurricanes (Jan. 16).
* Merzlikins, who has allowed a combined two goals over the course of his last four starts, joined rare company with his third shutout over that span.

* Merzlikins, who joined Steve Mason (45 saves on Jan. 9, 2009) as the second rookie goaltender in Blue Jackets history to register at least 40 saves in a shutout performance, is just the 10th such netminder to record as many saves in a home shutout. Only Mike Palmateer (47 on March 12 vs. DET), Juuse Saros (43 on Jan. 16, 2018 vs. VGK) and Bill Ranford (42 on Dec. 6, 1986 vs. PHI) posted a higher such total since 1955-56 (when saves began being tracked).

Dominik Kubalik (2-1—3) and Cale Makar (1-0—1) each scored to continue their impactful rookie seasons and play a part in Chicago and Colorado’s victories Saturday, respectively:

* Kubalik capped a three-point night (2-1—3) with his 20th goal of the season, after he batted a cross-ice pass from Jonathan Toews (2-2—4) into the back of the Toronto net. Among players to debut with the Blackhawks, Kubalik (20-11—31) became the sixth to score his 20th career goals prior to his 50th game and first since Eric Daze in 1995-96 (43 GP on Jan. 4, 1996).

* The 24-year-old forward, who became the first-ever Blackhawks rookie to register three multi-goal games in a span of four contests, leads all rookies in scoring since Dec. 1 (14-7—21). In fact, his 14 goals in that span trail only Auston Matthews (18-8—26 in 21 GP) among all players.

* Makar scored for the second time in as many games to boost his 2019-20 totals 11-24—35 and establish an Avalanche/Nordiques franchise record for goals in a single season by a rookie defenseman. The 21-year-old, who moved into a tie with Buffalo’s Victor Olofsson (16-19—35) for the rookie scoring lead, sits two points shy of tying Bruce Bell (6-31—37 in 75 GP) for the most points by a rookie defenseman in franchise history.

* The fourth overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft is on pace to 20-44—64 in 74 contests and can join a rare list of defensemen to score at 20 goals in their rookie season (Brian Leetch: 23 in 1988-89 w/ NYR), Barry Beck (22 in 1977-78 w/ CLR) and Dion Phaneuf (20 in 2005-06 w/ CGY).

Tanner Pearson (1-1—2), Adam Gaudette (0-2—2) and Jake Virtanen (0-2—2) each recorded a multi-point outing as the Canucks (27-18-4, 58 points) overtook first place in the Pacific Division.

* The Canucks captured eight straight home wins for the seventh time in franchise history and first since an equal stretch from March 19 – April 22, 2013. Their current eight-game run stands tied for the third-longest win streak on home ice, behind 11 straight wins from Feb. 3 – March 19, 2009 and nine consecutive victories from Nov. 6 – Dec. 9, 1992.

* Vancouver stands atop a Pacific Division that features five clubs separated by one point (also Edmonton: 26-18-5, 57 points, Calgary: 26-19-5, 57 points, Vegas: 25-19-7, 57 points and Arizona: 26-20-5, 57 points). Within a full regular season, the last time the top five teams within a division were separated by one point in January or later was the Norris Division on Jan 1, 1987: Minnesota (16-17-3, 35 points), Toronto (15-16-5, 35 points), Detroit (14-15-7, 35 points), St. Louis (14-16-6, 34 points) and Chicago (14-19-6, 34 points).

The Oilers (26-18-5, 57 points) and Wild (22-20-6, 50 points) each benefited from seven-goal performances Saturday to collect two crucial points in the standings. Additionally, eight of 12 games featured at least one team score at least five times.

* Saturday marked the second day of the 2019-20 campaign to feature at least eight teams scoring five-plus goals in a game (also eight on Dec. 23, 2019). Only four days in the last 25 years have featured more teams accomplish the feat: Nov. 21, 2018 (9), Jan. 31, 2017 (9), Dec. 29, 2007 (9) and Jan. 11, 2007 (9).

* Leon Draisaitl (0-2—2) collected multiple points for the fifth time in six contests to extend his point streak to eight games dating to Dec. 31 (5-9—14). It marks his third such run of at least eight contests this season (also 8 GP from Oct. 2 – 18, 2019 and 13 GP from Oct. 24 – Nov. 19, 2019).
* The Oilers scored seven goals in a game for the second time this season (7-5 W Dec. 31 vs. NYR) and became one of 11 teams with multiple such outings in 2019-20. The Lightning and Penguins pace all clubs with six such performances.

Jason Zucker (1-2—3) was one of five skaters with multiple points as Minnesota earned its second win in as many contests. The Wild scored seven goals in a shutout performance for the second time in franchise history (also Jan. 15, 2015 at BUF).


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