But tonight in "Sin City", the odds-on favorite to win the award isn't Ovechkin this time, it's Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price. Price is up for two other awards as well -- the Vezina Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award.
Tavares had a banner year for the Islanders in 2014-15. He had recorded a career-high in goals (38) and points (86) while playing in all 82 games of the regular season. Tavares also led the league in overtime goals (4) and he finished third in the NHL in game-winning goals (8).
In the playoffs, the Isles' captain led his team in points with six and contributed two goals in seven games. Nobody will forget his overtime winner in Game 3 against the Washington Capitals.
And Tavares was eight seconds away from winning the NHL scoring race before Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars snatched it away, capping off a four-point night in the Stars' final game of the season and finishing with 87 points. Even finishing second for the Art Ross Trophy is still significant since the Islanders haven't had a player in that strong of a position to win the award since Bryan Trottier won it in 1979.
More via Lighthouse hockey:
The "closest" an Islander has come to leading the league in scoring was the 2013 lockout season, when Tavares finished 13 points behind Art Ross winner Martin St. Louis. The last time an Islander came in second in the Art Ross race was 1981-82, when Mike Bossy's 147 points were a mere 67 behind winner Wayne Gretzky's 212. Notice the quotation marks on "closest."Even with all of that in mind, it still appears that Tavares will fall short for the second time for the Hart. Tavares is the most valuable player to his team. He showcased that time and time again during the 2014-15 season, but the same can be said for Price.
The Canadiens' goaltender finished the year with 44 wins, the most by any NHL goalie in the regular season, a league-best 1.96 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage. It was also quite clear that as Price goes, so do the Canadiens. Price was the most valuable player to his team.
"He's just always in the right position. And he's just effortless. It just looks easy for him," Tavares told NHL.com about Price. "Sometimes you think you let one rip and you feel like you got some pretty good wood on it and you got the target that you've looked at and picked off, and he kind of just gloves it like it was a bouncing tennis ball going in there. He just makes it look easy."
Ovechkin led the NHL in goals (53) and game-winning goals (11). He will receive his fifth “Rocket” Richard Trophy this year and is a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award. The Capitals' star also broke the stereotype as a one-dimensional player this year under new head coach Barry Trotz.
Tavares is facing some tough competition for the Hart Trophy, and if he doesn't leave Vegas with hardware, it can serve as another motivation tool heading into the offseason.