Photo by Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
It was classic Sidney Crosby.
After using his low centre of gravity and quick stick to steal the puck from Jets forward Blake Wheeler, Crosby fed his long-time sidekick Chris Kunitz who promptly buried to give the Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, native his 1,000th career point on Thursday. He later added another assist and capped his milestone night off with the overtime winner—because of course he did.
The Pittsburgh Penguins captain became the 86th player in NHL history and fastest active player to reach 1,000 career points while becoming the 12th fastest all time to reach the mark, doing it in 757 games. Had Crosby not run into serious injury troubles throughout his career, missing 167 regular-season contests since his rookie season—over two full seasons or nearly 20 percent of Pittsburgh's games—he could very well be nearing 1,200 points already, and he's only 29.
For fellow former No. 1 pick Alex Ovechkin, who reached the milestone a month before Crosby, durability has been an asset rather than a hindrance. Ovechkin has missed just 29 games over 12 seasons and, aside from missing 10 in the 2009-10 campaign, he's never sat more than four in a single season since 2005. In January, Ovechkin became the 84th player in league history to score his 1,000th point, when he scored 35 seconds into Washington's 5-2 win over (of course) Crosby's Penguins.
Respect. Photo by Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Here's a look at Sid and Ovi's march to 1,000 points:
As an 18-year-old, Crosby became the youngest in league history to hit the 100-point mark, while finishing second in the rookie scoring race with 102 points including 39 goals and 63 helpers—good for sixth among all NHL skaters. As the youngest player in the league, he added 31 points on the powerplay, five game-winning goals, and finished the 2005-06 season averaging 1.26 points-per-game.
Meanwhile, a 20-year old Ovechkin won the Calder Trophy after putting up 52 goals and 106 points to lead all rookies in both categories. Ovi had the third most productive rookie goal-scoring season ever, behind only Teemu Selanne (76) and Mike Bossy (53), and his 102 points trail only the Finnish Flash (132) and Peter Stastny (109).
During his second NHL season, Crosby became the youngest player to ever win a league scoring title at just 19 years of age, finishing the 2006-07 season with 36 goals and 84 assists to lead the league with 120 points. Averaging 1.52 points per game, Crosby had 48 assists while posting over half of his points on the powerplay.
He became the first teenager in any major North American team sport to lead his league in scoring, and was rewarded for his historic season at the NHL awards ceremony in June, when he added the Lester B. Pearson Award and the Hart Trophy to his Art Ross to win an unprecedented three major awards as a teenager.
Following Crosby's huge sophomore year, Ovechkin put up the best season of his career in his In 2007-08. He reached the 60-goal mark, becoming the first player to do so since Pittsburgh teammates Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr in 1995-96, and his 65 goals were 13 more than runner-up Ilya Kovalchuk.
Ovi finished the year with 112 points, including a league-high 22 powerplay goals and 446 shots on net. At the age of 22, Ovechkin cleaned up every major award as he took home the Hart, Rocket Richard, Art Ross and Lester B. Pearson Trophies in June.
Crosby has the highest points per game (1.32) and most playoff points (137) in the NHL since 2005-06. He also ranks among the all-time greats in PPG, as his current number is the fifth-best ever. At just 29 years old, it's certainly possible that Crosby can play another 1,000 games (pending his health). If he goes that long at a point-per-game pace, Sid the Kid has a strong chance of retiring with the second-highest point total in NHL history.
Ovechkin ranks third among active players with 561 goals, behind only wily veterans Jaromir Jagr (759) and Jarome Iginla (618), who have each played over 1,500 games compared to Ovi's 895. His goals-per-game average of 0.62 is by far the best in the NHL among active players and ranks fourth-best all time among skaters with at least 500 games played. When adjusting for era, he's the greatest goal scorer of all time, ahead of, yes, players like Wayne Gretzky and Lemieux.
If Ovechkin can average 35 goals per season for another eight campaigns, it's very possible the greatest Russian hockey player ever can challenge Gretzky's all-time record of 894 career goals.
The dynamic duo were just what the league needed coming out of a year-long lockout that left many fans bitter and uninterested. It's been a pleasure to watch the journeys of the two best players this generation has seen and, though they've both taken turns cleaning up at the NHL awards in June, Ovi has one elusive piece of hardware left to raise before he can consider his career complete—the Stanley Cup, which Crosby has won twice.