The Runner Sports

Capitals Crush Canadiens In Home Opener

Saturday night marked the Washington Capitals’ home opener against the Montreal Canadiens. And boy did they delight the D.C. faithful. The Capitals dominated Montreal on their way to a 6-1 victory. Now 2-0 to start the year, the Capitals have looked impressive early on. Here are several takeaways from their big night against the Canadiens:

O Captain! My Captain!

Alex Ovechkin continued his stellar start with a four-goal night against Montreal. Just 20 seconds into the game, he scored on a spin-around slap shot that eluded Carey Price. Two minutes later, he fired a power play tally past Price off a cross-ice pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov. He notched the first period hat trick near the end of the period. In the second period, Ovechkin added his fourth goal on a backhander that went in after hitting two Canadiens players. He made history with his performance by being the first player to score consecutive hat tricks to start the season since 1917. Through two games, Ovechkin has scored seven goals on 14 shots. He’s playing with a lot of energy, which bodes well for the Capitals going forward.

Good Day Nate!

History was also made on Saturday night in the form of Capitals rookie Nathan Walker. Against Montreal, Walker became the first Australian-born player to play in the NHL. There was a lot of buzz surrounding Walker during the preseason and he didn’t disappoint. His speed was on display every shift and he even showed off some physical prowess by throwing four hits. His debut was made even sweeter with his first career NHL goal. Walker got a piece of a Devante Smith-Pelly wrist shot and was rewarded the goal after some deliberation. If he can keep improving, Walker could hold off Tyler Graovac for a lengthy stay on the active roster.

Holy Holtby, Batman!

In the Capitals’ first game against the Ottawa Senators, Braden Holtby stood strong when it counted and got the win for Washington in the shootout. When the Canadiens came to town, he put up an even stronger outing. Holtby stopped 38 of 39 shots to earn his second win of the season. His glove was working often and he did a solid job of limiting rebound chances to the Canadiens. His one hiccup was a shorthanded tap-in by Brendan Gallagher after Dmitry Orlov turned the puck over in the defensive zone. Holtby will be one of the Capitals’ most important players once again this season and the results are exceptional thus far.

Side Notes

Top Line Continues to Dazzle

Through two games, the top line of Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, and Jakub Vrana has been electric. They took a little time to get going against Ottawa but they were in great form against Montreal. Ovechkin’s goal-scoring and grit is complimented nicely by Kuznetsov’s vision and playmaking and Vrana’s speed. The line almost cashed in on a nice three-way passing play but Vrana couldn’t hit the open net. The more this line plays together, the better they will get and that’s a scary thought for the rest of the league.

Kuznetsov Racks Up the Apples

Evgeny Kuznetsov is one of the best passers in the NHL and his performance against the Canadiens was evidence enough. “Kuz” recorded a four-assist night, one of which was the helper on Ovechkin’s hat trick goal. With the departure of Marcus Johansson, Kuznetsov is now a key component on the Capitals’ first power play unit. He could be poised for a huge year if he can stay on the top line.

Mic’d Up Referee

On a funny note, one of the referees was heard on his mic trying to sort out a penalty call. The call was a trip against the Canadiens but the refs weren’t sure who to send off. The head ref was heard saying, “Whoever tripped Ovechkin” but the funny thing is they sent the wrong player to the penalty box.

What’s Next: The Capitals will head back out on the road to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night. The Lightning are 1-1 to start the year, most recently losing to the Florida Panthers on Saturday night.

Andrew Markowitz

Longtime Capitals fan hoping to see a Stanley Cup parade in D.C. this year...or at least once in my life

Latest posts by Andrew Markowitz (see all)