After yet another devastating playoff loss, you would believe some of the enthusiasm surrounding the Capitals would begin to wear off. Yet, heading into the new season, there was renewed optimism yet again in Washington due in large part to the offseason acquisitions of Justin Williams and T.J. Oshie. Though their first game was far from perfect, they clearly made their impact felt with their new team.
Williams recorded two assists and Oshie chipped in with four shots on goal, tied with Ovechkin for the team high, to help lead the Caps to a 5-3 season-opening win over the the New Jersey Devils.
"We're still working and it's not perfect yet," said Ovechkin about his new linemates of Oshie and Evgeny Kunzetsov, "but I'm pretty sure we're going to be fine and we're going to be good."
"It was just a real choppy game," Williams said. "Certainly nobody's in midseason form yet, but stuff we can clean up."
Despite all the excitement surrounding Oshie teaming up with the Great 8, it was Williams who got on the scoresheet first.
While on the penalty kill, John Carlson attempted to dump the puck deep, but it went right to Williams who skated it into the offensive zone. With three Devils bunching around him, Williams found the trailing Chimera with a backhanded pass and then skated to the net. Chimera tried to pass it back to Williams but it was tipped past goalie Keith Kinkaid by Devils defenseman Jordin Tootoo giving Williams his first point, an assist, as a Cap.
Oshie may not have gotten on the scoresheet, but did display more of the toughness that quickly endeared him to the fans in the preseason.
Early in the first period, Oshie took the puck behind his own net and spotted New Jersey forward Brian O'Neill close on his heels. Rather than trying to out-skate him around the net, Oshie instead squared him up and laid him out with a beautiful shoulder check. It is that mixture of skill and toughness that makes him such an intriguing addition to the top line.
"Both had their moments," said head coach Barry Trotz. "Both had their moments when they were really good and there were some moments where I think they could be better and that's a new team, a new setting. I think that's just normal."
As the game went along, it was evident that the players were already adjusting to their new linemates as the Caps slowly began taking control.
"Our line didn't play well for maybe two periods but in the third we [period] we started moving the puck and we controlled the puck," Ovechkin said.
One adjustment the newcomers will happily make is getting used to playing along side a superstar like Ovechkin. When asked about Ovechkin's third-period goal that put the Caps up 3-2, Williams smiled and said, "If he can do that every time we're tied in the 3rd period, that'll be fine."