Alex Ovechkin's 500th goal and what we learned last week in the NHL

What we learned from the past week of play in the NHL:

• The Washington Capitals' Alexander Ovechkin continues to produce in a tediously low-scoring era. He needed the fifth-fewest games to reach 500 goals, scoring his 500th and 501st Sunday in his 801st NHL game. Only Wayne Gretzky (575), Mario Lemieux (605), Mike Bossy (647) and Brett Hull (693) did it in fewer games. Since Ovechkin debuted in 2005-06 he has scored 184 more goals than the second-place scorer in that span, the San Jose Sharks' Patrick Marleau (317). Also, Ovechkin has more points than the Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby in that span, 934-884.

• Ovechkin's Capitals risked little in signing Mike Richards to a prorated, one-year, $1-million contract. But did they get the tenacious two-way center who was vital to the Kings' 2012 Stanley Cup championship, or the one who was a fourth-liner by 2014 and couldn't keep a job last season? Maybe he was humbled when the Kings terminated his contract — they reached a settlement that will pay him about $10.5 million — and when he was charged with trying to import a controlled substance into Canada. What's most important is that Richards is healthy, in or out of the game.

Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin, a rookie of the year candidate with 14 goals and 29 points, is modest about his award prospects. "No, I wouldn't vote for myself," he said. "You want to be the best but I don't feel any pressure." Coach Jeff Blashill said that Larkin has "a real elite skill set and an elite mind for the game and a real inner drive….He's on the puck. He seems to win lots of puck battles and he's got such a good burst of speed that he's able to really be a positive factor."

• Denna Laing, who played for the Boston Pride of the National Women's Hockey League in a game before the NHL's Winter Classic, suffered a severe spinal cord injury when she crashed into the boards and has limited movement in her arms and no feeling in her legs, her parents said last week. Friends and family created a website to offer support, dennalaing.org. In a poignant message on her Facebook page she said, "I don't want you to feel bad for me. This is a moment to remember for Women's Hockey. We made history that day and I would never take those moments back."

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A version of this article appeared in print on January 12, 2016, in the Sports section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "WHAT WE LEARNED" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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