Amazingly, the two have only faced off in the post-season once and their teams have only won one Stanley Cup between them, but the rivalry has provided more than enough intrigue since the two took the league by storm after a year-long lockout.
The next rendition of Crosby vs. Ovechkin is set to take place as the Penguins and Capitals face off in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. As we look ahead to the series, we decided to look back at the history of the rivalry between the two stars. Adding to the intrigue, we decide who got the edge in every season of their esteemed careers.
2005-06: Despite being drafted No. 1 overall one year apart, the two rookie phenoms began their NHL careers in the same season. The Penguins got great production out of Crosby, who scored 39 goals with 63 assists in 81 games, while Ovechkin led his team in scoring with 52 goals and 54 assists in 81 games. Ovechkin beat out Crosby for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year.
However, neither of them qualified for the playoffs.
That season, the Moscow native also scored one of the prettiest goals in NHL history, which helped him land on the cover of the EA Sports’ NHL video game.
2006-07: Ovechkin’s sophomore season wasn’t as good as his rookie campaign, but he still scored 46 goals in 82 games as Washington finished 14th in the Eastern Conference.
On the other hand, Crosby’s production spiked in his second NHL season, racking up 36 goals with a career-high 120 points en route to winning the Hart Trophy, Art Ross Trophy, and the Ted Lindsay Award (formerly known as the Lester B. Pearson Award), becoming the seventh player in NHL history to earn all three awards in one year.
Led by their fantastic second-year centre, Pittsburgh returned to the post-season, but were knocked out in the opening round by the Ottawa Senators.
2007-08: The great rivalry continued as Ovechkin matched Crosby’s accomplishment by winning the Hart Trophy, Art Ross Trophy, and Ted Lindsay Award after scoring a career-high 65 goals (the first NHLer to score 60 since Mario Lemiux and Jaromir Jagr in 1995-96) with 47 assists in 82 games. He also helped the Capitals win the Southeast Division, but they fell short in a tough seven-game series with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Ovechkin did well financially too, as the Russian signed a 13-year contract extension worth $124 million in January of 2008.
Meanwhile, Crosby only suited up in 53 regular-season games, but still managed to rack up 72 points before he exploded in the playoffs with six goals and 21 assists in 20 games while leading the Penguins to the Stanley Cup final. Unfortunately for Crosby, Pittsburgh lost to Detroit in six games.
Edge: TIE — Ovechkin takes the individual portion but Crosby gets the last laugh in the playoffs.
2008-09: Crosby reached the 100-point mark for the third time in four seasons, while Ovechkin surpassed the 50-goal mark for the third time. He finished with 56 goals in 79 games. Ovechkin won his second straight Hart Trophy, but his Capitals got knocked out in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs by Crosby’s Penguins.
Crosby further added to his trophy case by becoming the youngest captain in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup as Pittsburgh got their revenge over the Red Wings in the Cup final.
2009-10: Crosby didn’t have much of a Stanley Cup hangover as the Penguins star surpassed the 50-goal mark (he scored 51) for the first time in his career and finished the season tied with Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos for the league lead.
Ovechkin had another quality year from an offensive standpoint, recording 50 goals and 59 assists and finished second in the league in total points behind Daniel Sedin.
Neither had much playoff success, as both teams were upset by the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens. Washington, which won the Presidents’ Trophy, were knocked out in a seven-game shocker in the first round, while Pittsburgh fell to the Habs in Round 2 — also in seven games.
On the international level, Crosby bettered Ovechkin at the 2010 Olympic Games as Canada knocked Russia out of the tournament in the quarter-final with a one-sided 7-3 victory. Crosby finished up the event by scoring the “Golden Goal” in overtime to beat the United States and helped Canada win an Olympic medal on home ice. It very well could be the defining moment of his career.
2010-11: Crosby’s season started smoothly. He scored 32 goals with 34 assists in 41 games but his year came to a crashing halt when he faced Ovechkin’s Capitals in the highly-anticipated Winter Classic.
Crosby suffered a concussion as a result of hits to the head in back-to-back games and it pushed him to the sidelines for more than 10 months.
Ovechkin had a down year relative to how he’d performed to that point in his career, but he still recorded more than a point per game (85 points in 79 games). The Capitals finished with the top record in the Eastern Conference, but were swept in the second round of the post-season by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Ovechkin had 10 points in nine playoff games.
2011-12: Crosby’s concussion symptoms returned after just eight games and he was again forced out of Pittsburgh’s lineup until March of 2012. In total, Crosby played just 22 regular-season games in 2011-12 before the Penguins came up short in an epic six-game first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia Flyers. Crosby finished the series with eight points in six games.
Ovechkin didn’t fare much better. His production rapidly declined in the regular season with just 65 points and a career-low 32 goals, but the Capitals still qualified for the post-season. They upset the second-seeded Bruins in the first round before falling to the Rangers in a hard-fought seven-game series in Round 2.
The Russian had five goals and nine points in 14 playoff games.
2012-13: A lockout shortened the regular season to just 48 games, but the time off didn’t affect the Capitals star, who won another Hart Trophy with 32 goals and 56 points. Crosby, who also posted 56 points, was a Hart finalist.
The Penguins, however, had better playoff success as Pittsburgh made it to the Conference final before getting embarrassed in a four-game sweep by the Boston Bruins. Washington lost to the Rangers in seven games during the first round.
Edge: Crosby — While Ovechkin had a slightly better regular season, his team’s lack of playoff success has to fall on the best player.
2013-14: Ovechkin did well on a personal level, scoring 51 goals with 79 points in 78 games, but his team did not even make it to the playoffs as Washington finished three points shy. Crosby, on the other hand, landed the Hart Trophy again and finished as the top scorer with 36 goals and 104 points in 80 games. In the playoffs, Pittsburgh beat the Columbus Blue Jackets, but fell to the Rangers in Round 2. Crosby had nine points in 13 playoff games.
Internationally, it was even tougher for Ovechkin as his Russian team was a huge letdown at the 2014 Sochi Olympics while Crosby racked up a second straight gold medal for Canada.
2014-15: Crosby and Ovechkin both finished in the top five in NHL scoring, but the Penguins star finished with three more points in four fewer games. Ovechkin’s most notable development was his improvement in his all-around game as the Capitals forward worked well with new head coach Barry Trotz.
The Capitals won a playoff round as well, beating the New York Islanders in a wild seven-game series before falling to the New York Rangers (who beat Pittsburgh a round before) in Game 7 during Round 2.
2015-16: The playoffs will ultimately decide who gets the edge this year. Ovechkin’s team had great success throughout the regular season, essentially dominating the Eastern Conference, while Crosby rebounded from a horrific start and led his team back to the playoffs with a dominant post all-star performance.
Ovechkin was a strong (and hard-hitting) presence for the Capitals as they defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in six games. He had three goals and two assists in the first-round series. He also became the Capitals’ all-time leader in playoff points.
Crosby continued his momentum into the first round, helping the Penguins dominate the Rangers in five games with three goals and five assists.