The Washington Capitals' slump stretched to three games Saturday as they dropped their third consecutive contest in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs despite a much more spirited effort than the evening before.
Washington fired a season-high 50 shots on goal (the team's most since March 8, 2010), but only one eluded Toronto goaltender James Reimer. Of course, it came off the hot stick of Alex Ovechkin, who blasted a bouncing puck past Reimer to tie the game at 1-1 with 4:10 remaining in regulation.
It was Ovechkin's 20th goal of the season -- and 43rd in 45 games dating back to last season -- as he opened a three-goal lead over St. Louis Blues forward Alexander Steen (who Ovechkin tied with two goals during the teams' meeting last Sunday) in the "Rocket" Richard race.
Ovechkin has seemingly done it all on an individual level -- three Hart Trophies as League MVP, three "Rocket" Richard Trophies, an unmatched 391 goals since entering the NHL in 2005-06 -- but by scoring Saturday, he attained an unprecedented personal achievement that may come as a surprise.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, this is the first season in which Ovechkin has been the first player to reach the 20-goal mark. (Tampa Bay Lighting forward Steven Stamkos, who was certainly on pace to reach 20 first if not for a broken leg, had done it in each of the past three seasons.)
One season after joining a list of Hall-of-Famers by becoming just the ninth player to score 30 goals in each of his first eight seasons, Ovechkin has now scored at least 20 goals in each of his first nine. Only two other active players -- New Jersey Devils forward Jaromir Jagr and Anaheim Ducks forward Teemu Selanne -- have accomplished that feat.
With 20 goals in 22 games, Ovechkin is on pace for 73 goals over 80 games, which would be a career-high and tie Wayne Gretzky for the sixth-most in NHL single-season history.
Yet perhaps the disconcerting statistic is that the Capitals have only scored three goals in their last three games, all of which have been scored by Ovechkin.
Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.