Capitals fans shouldn’t be too surprised by this one: Alex Ovechkin was named one of the NHL’s Three Stars for last week after two spectacular season-opening games that combine for seven goals.
Ovechkin was named the First Star of the week, while Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds were the second and third stars, respectively.
The Capitals opened the 2017-18 season against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday and scored a hat trick in the third period to help carry Washington to a 5-4 shootout win.
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Then against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, the captain pulled through with a second hat trick — his 19th of the season, which ties Peter Bondra for the franchise record — plus one as the Caps won in dominating fashion, 6-1. His second hat trick of the season also happened in a single period, scoring three goals in the first and his fourth goal in the second period.
Ovechkin’s incredible start to the season also put him in the NHL record books. He is the first player in 100 years and only the fourth overall to post a hat trick in each of his team’s first two games of the season.
The Caps will take on the Tampa Bay Lightning next, with the puck set to drop Monday, October 9 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
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Vincent Trocheck scored on the power play with 18.7 seconds remaining and the Panthers escaped with a 3-2 victory on an emotional night in Sunrise, Fla.
Trocheck’s goal was Florida’s second in the final four minutes…and the Caps were left to lament yet another incomplete performance. Washington has now lost three of its last four games and fell to 4-5-2 in February.
Tarik’s three stars of the game:
1-Vincent Trocheck, Panthers
Trocheck did what Trocheck does in the third period: The Florida forward scored a clutch goal in the final seconds, redirecting a Jonathan Huberdeau shot through Brooks Orpik’s legs and past Braden Holtby. Eller was in the penalty box when Trocheck scored his 13th third period goal of the season.
2-Andre Burakovsky, Capitals
After losing a goal to Eller in the first period, Burakovsky made sure he didn’t go home empty handed. No. 65 scored on the power play in the second period to put the Caps ahead 2-1. It was Burakovsky’s third goal in six games. He also earned a secondary assist on Eller’s redirection score.
3-Braden Holtby, Capitals
Following a handful of un-Holtby-like performances lately, Holtbeast roared Thursday night at BB&T Center. He made at least one game-saving stop in each period: an arm save on Trocheck in the first period; a pad stop on Denis Malgin in the second and another extended pad stop on Evgenii Dadonov in the third. Holtby finished with 30 stops.
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The Caps looked like they had the win as they led 2-1 late in the third period, but things went off the rails in the final four minutes of the game in a 3-2 loss for Washington.
Here's how the Caps lost.
An emotional start for Robert Luongo
Before the game, Roberto Luongo took the mic during an emotional tribute to the victims of the tragic Stoneman Douglas school shooting. As a writer, it was hard to get into the game after that. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for Luongo to focus after that. But he did. He started off the game very well, making several strong saves. Washington scored late in the first period after an offensive cycle of over a minute that completely wore out the Panthers' skaters. Otherwise, Luongo was brilliant turning aside 13 of the 14 shots he faced in the opening 20 minutes.
Another shaky start for Braden Holtby
This was the best game we have seen from Braden Holtby in a while as he made a number of phenomenal saves in the second and third period. In the first, however, he continued to struggle. Maxim Mamin scored his first career NHL goal and point as a puck trickled through Holtby and Mamin was able to slam it home. Holtby was dealing with a screen, but reacted late to the initial shot and late to Mamin.
Aleksander Barkov splitting Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson
With a 2-1 lead, the Caps looked like they had control. But with less than four minutes remaining, Aleksander Barkov was able to split Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson to set up Nick Bjugstad for the game-tying goal. Ovechkin was backchecking and Carlson stepped up on him and then...nothing. It looked as if both players thought the other would take Barkov and Ovechkin let up at the same time Carlson skated past giving Barkov a lane to the net.
A late penalty to Lars Eller
With the game tied late, the Caps were exerting their will in the offensive zone with the cycle that had been dominant all game long...and then Lars Eller tried to set a pick on Bjugstad, knocking him to the ice. It was an obvious interference call with just 42 seconds remaining in the game. Florida would score 22 seconds later to deny Washington not only the win, but even a point.