The Colorado Avalanche started their season with impressive wins over the Dallas Stars and Pittsburgh Penguins, but they could not beat the Caps. Washington handed Colorado the 3-0 loss on Tuesday, the Avalanche's first of the season.
How it happened: After failing to record a point in the first two games, the Capitals' top line came alive Tuesday. Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie both score their first goals of the season in what was a smothering attack. Oshie would later add a second in the third period to ice the game away. Colorado kept the game relatively close thanks to a spectacular performance by goalie Semyon Varlamov, but Philipp Grubauer stopped every shot he faced for the shutout.
What it means: The win makes the Caps 1-0-0 against the Western Conference. Last season, the Caps were 17-8-3 against teams from the west. Those 17 wins were the second-most in the NHL. The loss was also Colorado head coach Jared Bednar's first NHL loss. He took over the Avalanche after the sudden resignation of Patrick Roy in the offseason.
Honoring Holtby: Braden Holtby did not get the start, but he was still a big part of the action. In recognition of his historic 2015-16 season, the Capitals honored Holtby with a pregame ceremony that included a video tribute with a message from Olaf Kolzig and his parents, among others. You can see the full tribute here.
Special again: The Capitals could not score on their first eight power play opportunities this season, but they tallied twice against Colorado on the man advantage to take a 2-0 lead. In the first period, Ovechkin unleashed a blistering one-timer from the office that beat Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov on the sharp angle. Oshie followed up with a goal in the second period after getting fed perfectly in the slot by Nicklas Backstrom. The Caps finished the night with two power play goals on five opportunities.
A career first for Grubauer: Holtby may have gotten all the praise at the start of the game, but all eyes were on Grubauer at the end as he registered his first NHL shutout. Grubauer was not nearly as tested as Varlamov — he faced 18 shots as opposed to the 40 Varlamov faced — but it was still an impressive night for the German netminder. Grubauer managed a pedestrian 8-9-1 record last season with a .918 save percentage and 2.32 goals-against average, but he did not seem to receive nearly as much support from an otherwise stellar lineup.
Memory lane: Varlamov, a former goalie for the Capitals, played like the player former general manager George McPhee envisioned he would be when he drafted Varlamov 23rd overall in the 2006 draft. Washington could have ended this one early, but for Varlamov's performance. The Caps outshot Colorado 20-5 in the first period and 40 for the game, but Varlamov turned aside all but two of those shots to keep this one close.
Look ahead: The Caps head to the Sunshine State to face the Florida Panthers on Thursday before returning home for a Saturday night matchup with the New York Rangers.
MORE CAPITALS: Caps honor Holtby for historic 2015-16 season