Capitals

Capitals

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two nights after opening the season with a hat trick, Alex Ovechkin outdid himself in Saturday night’s home opener at Capital One Arena.

The Caps’ captain scored four goals, including three in the first period, to power Washington to a 6-1 victory over the Canadiens.  

How it happened: 

Ovechkin happened — again.

He struck first, just 20 seconds into the game, firing a turnaround rocket over Carey Price's left shoulder. T.J. Oshie made it 2-0 just 26 seconds after that, potting a rebound off a Nicklas Backstrom shot.

Then No. 8 put the game essentially out of the Habs’ reach.

Ovechkin sniped a power play shot past Price to make it 3-0, then he redirected an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot with 1:50 in the remaining in the opening fame to put the home team ahead 4-0.

“I think we’ve been skating since Day 1 together,” Ovechkin said of playing with Evgeny Kuznetsov, who has six primary assists on Ovechkin’s seven goals. “Obviously we have lots of talk, our line. What know we have to do, especially when we come to the [offensive] zone. It’s important when we have connections and we understand exactly what we have to do.”

Montreal’s backup goalie Al Montoya started the second period, and Brendan Gallagher parlayed a Dmitry Orlov turnover into a shorthanded goal that pulled the Habs to within 4-1.

But that’s as close as Montreal would get.

Ovechkin tacked on another goal in the second period with a power move to the net and a shot that pinballed its way past Montoya. The tally was originally credited to Oshie, who waved at the puck as it crossed the goal line but never touched it.

 

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Historic (and memorable) Debut: 

Nathan Walker made history by becoming the first Australian national to suit up in an NHL game.

Then, late in the second, he became the first Aussie to score a goal by redirecting a Devante Smith-Pelly shot past Montoya. Smith-Pelly was initially credited with the goal, though DSP seemed to indicate immediately that Walker had gotten a piece of it. When the scoring change was announced early in the third, the building—and the Caps’ bench— erupted in cheers. Walker’s debut came in front of his parents, bother and friends, who traveled all the way from Sydney.  

“That was pretty special, it was really fun,” Walker said.

“The first couple of shifts, I wasn’t quite sure what happened. I was just skating around out there. …To play on a stage like this, it was really incredible.”

What Capitals 6, Canadiens 1 Means: 

We’re just two games into the regular season, so it’s far too early to get excited. But given the degree of difficulty the Caps faced right out of the gate, things are going about as well as anyone could have expected.

They’re 2-0-0. Ovechkin is tearing it up. And the team has 11 goals in two games.

“The biggest thing, to me, is Alex is skating,” Trotz said. “He’s getting to those pucks and his shot is undeniable. When he’s moving feet, he just needs that space.”

He added: “Whatever [Ovi’s line] is doing, I think it’s great. They probably got a little bit of life from having a young guy like [Jakub Vrana] on that line.”

Other Observations:

Ovi making moves: Saturday’s hat trick was Ovechkin’s 19th and moved him into a tie with Peter Bondra for the franchise record. Mike Gartner is third with 13.

Another Ovi superlative: According to the NHL, Ovechkin’s back-to-back hat tricks marked the first time in a 100 years that someone pulled off that feat in his team’s first two games.

Even strength Ovi: After scoring a career-low 16 goals at even strength, he’s got six in the first two games.   

PK = lights out: After snuffing out a couple of shorthanded situations, the Caps have killed off eight straight penalties to start the season.

Saluting Karl: Karl Alzner made his return to D.C. after spending the first nine years of his career in Washington.

During a TV timeout in the first period, the Caps played a video tribute to their 2007 first round pick, who received a standing ovation from the appreciative fans and stick taps from the players.

 

Looking ahead: 

The Caps are scheduled to practice Sunday at 11:30 in Arlington before traveling to Tampa, where they’ll face Steven Stamkos and the Lightning on Monday night.

Also next week: games vs. Pittsburgh and in New Jersey and Philadelphia.