Ovechkin, power play spark Caps in 5-1 win over Rangers originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Capitals scored three times on the power play to spark a 5-1 season-opening win over the New York Rangers on Wednesday. Alex Ovechkin recorded four points (2 goals, 2 assists). His two goals were No. 731 and 732, pulling him ahead of Marcel Dionne for 5th all-time in goals.
Here are some observations from the game.
Cooler heads prevail
Given what happened last year between the Capitals and Rangers and all the muscle the Rangers added in the offseason, everyone was expecting this game to devolve into a brawl. Even the league took notice as the head of the Department of Player Safety, George Parros, was at the game as well as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly. Prior to the game, Bettman said "the game has our attention."
But it didn't turn into the bare-knuckle brawl many anticipated.
The referees played a role in quickly stepping in whenever things got rough. Trevor van Riemsdyk dropped the gloves with Sammy Blais in the first period, but the fight was broken up so quickly both players were only given matching double-minors for roughing. The linesmen also quickly stepped in to defuse fisticuffs between Garnet Hathaway and Jacob Trouba, as well as Martin Fehervary and Jarred Tinordi.
Special teams look special
Both Tom Wilson and Peter Laviolette said part of the focus of Wednesday's game would be taking advantage on the power play if the Rangers were undisciplined. That turned out to be the key to the game.
Washington had little offense to speak of at 5-on-5 midway through the game, but still held a 2-0 lead because they were able to strike twice on the power play.
T.J. Oshie scored the team's first goal of the season as he crashed the net, getting the loose puck behind goalie Alexandar Georgiev and burying it into the net. In the second period, Justin Schultz fired a shot from the point that deflected off of Mika Zibanejad's stick and in.
Ovechkin would add a third power-play goal in the third period. Washington scored three goals on six power-play opportunities as it did indeed prove to be the decisive factor in the game, much like Wilson and Laviolette mentioned at the morning skate.
The penalty kill was also strong killing off four out of five power plays for the Rangers. New York did not score until the third period when the score was already 4-0.
Another historic night for Ovechkin
A night to remember for Hendrix Lapierre
Lapierre was supposed to be selected well before it was the Capitals' turn to pick in the 2020 draft, but health concerns caused him to fall. Fast-forward to Wednesday where Lapierre scored his first NHL goal in his NHL debut.
Just 24 seconds after Schultz made it 2-0, Oshie took the puck into the offensive zone and Lapierre zipped past Artemi Panarin to make it a 2-on-1. Oshie got him the puck and Lapierre buried it as he fell to the ice. He was so happy, Oshie had to pick up him from the ice after the goal as they celebrated. It was a special moment for the rookie and a night he will never forget.