Patrik Laine rips goals, reaps rewards and hopes to shut down his idol
Laine names NHL's first star of the week — one week after being named the league's second star
Patrik Laine just keeps hitting new milestones and solidifying his place in NHL history.
The 19-year-old Winnipeg Jets' winger led the team to a pair of wins last week, scoring five goals in three road games. In one of those, he netted the only goals in the Jets' 3-0 shutout of the New York Rangers.
It was his fourth career hat trick, which made him just the third player in NHL history to post four three-goal games prior to his 20th birthday.
The superstar Finn then scored again in a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils and finished the week by notching a power play goal in the Jets' 2-1 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday.
The effort earned him the NHL's first star of the week — one week after he was named the league's second star of the week for collecting four goals and three assists in three games.
Laine has 63 points (40 goals, 23 assist) in 68 games this season, making him the ninth different player in NHL history to reach the 40-goal mark as a teenager and just the third to do so in the last 32 years.
Including last season's totals, he has now scored 76 goals, which ties him with Wayne Gretzky, who has been called the greatest hockey player ever. Only two players in NHL history have scored more as a teen — former Jet Dale Hawerchuk (85) and former L.A. Kings centre Jimmy Carson (92).
Laine turns 20 on April 19 and the Jets have 14 regular-season games left. Over the past 11 games, he has 15 goals and six assist
Ovechkin vs Laine:
Laine currently leads the NHL in power play goals (18), which is three more than the next closest player, and is tied with his idol, Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin, for the overall league lead (40).
Those teams face off Monday night in Washington.
"It's pretty awesome just to be in this position to race for the goal scoring title as a 19-year-old. So it's pretty unreal," Laine said on JetsTV following Monday's morning practice.
"Washington has, they've always been my favourite team when I was growing up. Now we're playing here so it's pretty cool."
Asked if he felt more pressure with the goal-scoring deadlock with Ovechkin, Laine said bluntly, "No, not at all."
"We gotta get the two points [from a win], that's the only thing we care about."
A big smile spread across Laine's bearded face when advised that Ovechkin told reporters earlier in the morning that he admires the way Laine scores.
"It sounds pretty good to me that he's saying nice things about me. He's been my biggest idol when I was growing up so it's pretty unreal to hear something like that," he said.
But his expression swung back to a serious one when the topic turned to Ovechkin being just two goals shy of 600 on his career.
Laine called it an amazing accomplishment but said he doesn't want to witness it first hand.
"Maybe the next game, but not tonight," he said.