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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 32: Capitals vs. Avalanche Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 32: Capitals vs. Avalanche Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Colorado Avalanche

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

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

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

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

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-AVALANCHE GAME?

The Capitals (18-12-1) take on the Avalanche (14-13-2) Tuesday, December 12 at 7:00 p.m. ET at Capital One Arena.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-AVALANCHE GAME ON?

The Capitals-Avalanche game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Capitals GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington following the game for Caps Extra, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11 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. Avalanche
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-AVALANCHE GAME?

The Capitals-Avalanche 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.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR CAPITALS-AVALANCHE?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

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

Defensemen
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - John Carlson
Christian Djoos - Madison Bowey

Goalies
Philipp Grubauer starts with Braden Holtby as backup.

Scratches: T.J. Oshie (upper-body injury), Taylor Chorney

CAPITALS-AVALANCHE 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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4 reasons the Caps lost to the Islanders

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4 reasons the Caps lost to the Islanders

A red-hot Capitals team traveled to Brooklyn where they were handed a 3-1 loss by the New York Islanders. Washington gave up an early goal in the first period and two early goals in the second that ultimately put the game out of reach.

Here is how it happened.

The first 94 seconds of the second period

The Caps trailed 1-0 at the end of the first and seemed fortunate to be down by only one. That luck ran out very quickly in the second period. Andrew Ladd scored just 36 seconds into the period and John Tavares added another just 58 seconds later. A 1-0 deficit turned into a 3-0 deficit in just 94 seconds.

Defensive breakdowns

Braden Holtby was pulled in the second period after giving up three goals, but if is hard to put this loss on Holtby's shoulders. He did not get much help at all from the defense as the Caps were frequently caught out of position by the Islanders. Watch how little movement there is from the players in white on this play.

Josh Bailey found himself in the middle of four Caps players, none challenged him and, even worse, no one covered John Tavares. It was an easy pass for Bailey and an easy goal for Tavares.

No sustained offensive pressure

The Islanders entered the game ranked 29th in goals against per game, yet the Caps could not take advantage. Washington fired 32 shots on goal, but could not create much sustained offensive pressure. There were not many cycles, not many won puck battles in the corners, not many second-chance opportunities, not many opportunities at all. Even the Caps' lone goal came from an end-to-end drive that Dmitry Orlov fired into the net.

Jaroslav Halak

While the Caps did not have many high-quality opportunities, the few they did have Jaroslav Halak was able to turn aside and he made it look easy. Halak has not had a great season, but you would not have known it given the way he played on Monday. He looked very comfortable in net, even when the Caps did manage to pressure him and recorded 31 saves on the night.