The Washington Capitals that flew onto the ice Wednesday night at Capital One Arena were unlike any Caps team starts we remember seeing in the past. They were magnificent for the home opener and kept the magic going in Pittsburgh, even though they suffered and overtime loss.
TJ Oshie announced 24 seconds into the game Wednesday that he meant it when he said they would go “back to back” with the Caps first goal of the new season.
The rest of the game was equally exceptional as fans cheered themselves silly with one goal after another.
Evgeny Kuznetsov (2) Alex Ovechkin, Nic Dowd, John Carlson, and finally Lars Eller all added to the 7-0 shutout win.
Even Braden Holtby got in on the scoring with the assist on Kuznetsov’s second goal.
Other player assists recorded were: Nick Backstrom (3), Ovechkin, Oshie, Matt Niskanen, Nathan Walker, Devante Smith-Pelly, John Carlson, Chandler Stephenson, and Brooks Orpik.
There were a couple scuffles on the ice. We love how Madison Bowey defended himself from a Bruins Sean Kuraly holding penalty that evolved into Kuraly’s attempt at a fight. The Bruins took exception to the Eller goal (the team’s seventh) and his joy and scoring in the first game to go after him. Bad Boy Brad Marchand should have found himself in discussions with the boys in New York. Marchand has this to say following the game: “His celebration was unnecessary. He took an angle in front of our bench and celebrated in a 7-0 game. So I just let him know.” This from the guys with a licking problem…
This was a team effort without a doubt. It was clear that everyone wanted to record a point Wednesday. The penalties were light- only Jakub Vrana was called for slashing in the first period and Bowey for a crosscheck in the third. The others were related to the fights.
There was a quick turnaround for the boys in red as they left right after the game to meet the rivals that have been a thorn in their side for years. The first period against the Penguins had its ups and downs, ending with the Caps up 3-2. Holtby let in three Pens goals in the second with the Caps still getting one in behind Matt Murray. In the third period the Caps showed the tenacity that won them the Cup as they came back strong to tie the game up 6 -6. Unfortunately, they were unable to hold off the Pens in OT, ending the game 7-6 Pens and taking home one more point for the new season
Those thinking the Capitals would suffer a post Stanley Cup Hangover from the stress and partying of the players and staff were silenced when the final horn blew after 60 minutes of glorious hockey in Washington. The push they had in Pittsburgh is something that seems to be part of the DNA of this winning combination. They need to watch out for those penalties, especially against teams who want to draw them out.
Sure there will be rough patches in the months ahead but the fans can always look back at Wednesday night and recall the fire that started the season! Up next our the Vegas Golden Knights return to DC for the first match since falling to the Caps in the final round. Be kind friends – remember what it was like to come so close!