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Ovechkin saves Caps in Ottawa as Washington earns shootout win

Ovechkin saves Caps in Ottawa as Washington earns shootout win

Alex Ovechkin scored three goals in the third period Thursday night to rally the Caps, who eventually secured a 5-4 shootout win at Canadian Tire Centre in the season opener for both teams.

How it happened: The Senators took a 3-1 lead early in the third period after a bad turnover by Matt Niskanen gifted a goal to Derick Brassard. Then things got interesting.

Ovechkin scored back-to-back goals just 1:23 apart to even things up, 3-3.

But the Senators weren’t done. Devante Smith-Pelly had his pocket picked in the neutral zone and, moments later, Mark Stone had his second goal of the game.

Ovechkin, however, brought the Caps right back, sniping a shot over Craig Anderson’s pad at 10:48 to knot the score 4-4.

After a scoreless extra session, Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored in the shootout to clinch the Caps’ come-from-behind victory.

The Gr8: The hat trick was Ovechkin’s 18th and his first to open a season. He also became the second Capital to notch a season-opening hat trick, joining Mikhail Grabovsky (2013).

RELATED: HAT'S OFF TO OVECHKIN

What it means: Not much at this point; it was after all just the first of 82 regular season games. But you can say this without a doubt: after an occasionally concerning 2-5 preseason, the Caps showed the hustle and focus they lacked during the exhibition campaign.

Newcomers: If you include Jakub Vrana, there were five new players in the Caps’ lineup on Thursday. Some stood out for good reasons and others stood out for, well, not so good reasons. Among the good were Vrana (five shots, two assists) and Smith-Pelly (excellent on the penalty kill). Among the bad was Aaron Ness (penalties for holding the stick and slashing).  

Stellar start on special teams: Led by Jay Beagle, Smith-Pelly and Braden Holtby (28 saves), the Caps killed off all five shorthanded situations that they faced, including a 4-on-3 in overtime. That, after the penalty kill ranked 25th in seven preseason games (79.1-percent).   

Look ahead: It gets no easier for the Caps. They open their home slate Saturday night against Carey Price and the Canadiens. After that, they play at Steven Stamkos and the Lightning on Monday before hosting the champion Penguins on Wednesday.

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Sabres will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Sabres game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals (34-20-7) take on the Sabres (18-32-11) Saturday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Capital One Arena.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME ON?

The Capitals-Sabres game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Sabres
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Sabres game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Michal Kempny - Brooks Orpik

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals-Panthers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

CAPITALS-SABRES OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

Alan May knows a thing or two about the trade deadline.

Over the course of his NHL career, May was traded five total times, four at the trade deadline. He sits down with Rob Carlin on a special edition of the Capitals Extra Podcast to tell stories from his playing days about what it was like getting traded.

This one's a can't miss for hockey fans. You can listen to the episode here on the Capitals Extra page or with the player below.