Alex Ovechkin stole the show in DC as the Caps routed the Habs in their season home opener, while Nathan Walker played the lead supporting role.
The young forward, who tonight became the first Australian to play in the NHL, scored on debut as the Capitals skated away with a 6-1 win to improve to 2-0-0 on the young season.
After collecting a hattrick on Thursday night in Ottawa, Ovechkin scored a further four times tonight, including three in the opening period. His first, just 20 seconds in, was a stunning twisting slap shot which bamboozled Carey Price, before T.J. Oshie scored just 26 seconds later to give the Caps an early 2-0 lead. Jumping in front of a packed Capital One Arena, Ovechkin made it 3-0 2:51 in, before collecting his third late in the period via deflection off a Evgeny Kuznetsov bullet.
The Habs pegged one back early in the second when Brendan Gallagher scored his first goal of the season, and the momentum had taken a shift in the visitor’s direction as a comeback was sensed. That was snuffed out late in the period though, when Ovechkin was somewhat fortuitously credited with his fourth after a goalmouth scramble resulted in a deflected puck squeezing over the line to make it 5-1. With the result now beyond doubt, Walker capped off a feel-good night just under two minutes from the second intermission, when Devante Smith-Pelly’s powerful wrister off the draw deflected off the Australian and into the top right corner. Upon announcement of Walker being credited with the goal there were tears in the stands from his family and fiancé.
The final period was a far duller affair, as the Habs out-shot the home team 12-3 however were unable to breach the defense of Braden Holtby who had a stellar night, continuing his impressive career numbers against Montreal. In the end, the Caps were out-shot 39-23 however were the far more efficient of the two teams, capitalizing on their chances.
Ovechkin’s 19th career hattrick tied Peter Bondra’s franchise record, while it was the first time since the 1917-18 season where someone has scored hattricks in back-to-back games to start the season. Also of note was Kuznetsov’s four assists on the night which makes it seven on the season. The 25-year-old Russian is rapidly closing in on the 200 NHL points mark, now sitting just 11 shy.
The Caps next face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night at Amalie Arena.