Alex Ovechkin scores his 500th goal, the Florida Panthers win their twelfth straight game, Evander Kane returns to Winnipeg and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

Alex Ovechkin became the 43rd NHL player to score 500 goals. The Panthers extended their franchise-record win streak to 12 games with a victory over the Oilers.

 Notable NHL Headlines.

Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin snipes his 500th career NHL goal.

Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin snipes his 500th career NHL goal.

THE WASHINGTON POST: Alex Ovechkin became the fifth-fastest player in NHL history to reach the 500 goal mark during his club’s 7-1 win over the Ottawa Senators. “Only Wayne Gretzky (575), Mario Lemieux (605), Mike Bossy (647) and Brett Hull (693) reached the mark faster.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin’s achievement is more impressive when one considers the era in which he plays, where the opponents are faster, better-conditioned, stronger and the game is far more defensive in style. He is unquestionably this era’s most exciting player and its greatest goal scorer. As Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby appears to be fading, Ovechkin could be settling the argument over which player is this era’s greatest. All that eludes him is a Stanley Cup championship. 

THE SCORE: Florida Panthers winger Jaromir Jagr scored on a breakaway in his club’s 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. The 43-year-old Jagr, who leads the Panthers in scoring (!), now has 737 career goals. He’s only four shy of Brett Hull for third on the NHL’s all-time goal scoring list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jagr is also regrowing his famous mullet from the 1990s. Guess his strength really was in his hair. So far, he and the Panthers are one of the best stories of this season.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks thrashed the Colorado Avalanche 6-3 for their seventh straight win. And with 10 minutes remaining in the third period and down 6-2, Avs coach Patrick Roy pulled his goaltender to give his club a 6-on-4 power play. It didn’t result in a goal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hey, why not? You’re already down four goals by that point and on the power play. No harm in trying to improve the odds and hope to give your club a slim hope of a comeback.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: In his return to Winnipeg for the first time since he was dealt last season to the Buffalo Sabres, left wing Evander Kane passed up a chance for an empty-net goal to set up rookie Sam Reinhart’s third of the game, giving the youngster his first career hat trick in the Sabres’ 4-2 victory.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  Making an unselfish play is certainly one way to annoy those who consider you a selfish jerk. Well played, Evander Kane.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Ryan Getzlaf’s horrible season continues, as his turnover led to the game-winning goal for the Detroit Red Wings.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: A year ago, the Kings were fourth in the Pacific Division and on their way to missing the playoffs. Today, they’re atop the Pacific and among the Western Conference’s best teams.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is on track for a career-best season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If not for Fleury’s solid performance when the club was struggling through most of the first half of this season, the Penguins would be well out of playoff contention. He’s the main reason they’re still in striking distance of a postseason berth. 

STLTODAY.COM: Blues goaltender Jake Allen (knee injury) could be sidelined until the All-Star break at the end of this month.

CALGARY SUN: Among the five burning questions facing the Flames this week: Is goalie Karri Ramo really ok after taking a shot to the neck/collarbone area during Sunday’s practice. The team claims he’s fine.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ramo’s stellar play over the last month lifted the Flames from the bottom of the league standings into playoff contention. The last thing they want is for him to be sidelined or struggling through an injury.