As far as wins go, this one was impressive.
Facing a challenging test on the road to start the 2017-18 NHL season, the Washington Capitals came from behind four times to snatch two points off the Ottawa Senators on the back of a vintage Alex Ovechkin display.
Trailing 1-0 early when Chris Wideman’s long range wrister snuck by Braden Holtby, the Caps responded almost immediately when Brett Connolly rocketed a snap shot home from the slot to tie things up 8:07 into the first. The game would remain tied until 6:52 in the second when the Sens regained the lead via Mark Stone, in what would prove to be a strong game from the 25-year-old. The goal went against the wave of momentum the Caps had created early in the second, having come out jumping yet not being able to capitalize on the numerous chances they created.
Despite out-shooting their opponents 18-16 after two periods, the Caps fell further behind early in the third period when Sens veteran Derick Brassard opened his tally for the new season just over two minutes in. Trailing 3-1 and needing a spark, Ovechkin gave the visitors hope, scoring twice within 83 seconds to tie things up at 3-3. His second goal, a punch home from the slot, exemplified a top line which really started to gel nicely the longer the game went on.
In a see-sawing contest, Stone put a fourth by Holtby on the night as the Sens took the lead yet again, with just over 13 minutes to play. However as they had done all night, the Caps responded shortly after, when Ovechkin nailed a wrister from the left circle to notch the 18th hattrick of his career and send hats flying onto the ice. Remarkably, Ovechkin’s hattrick took just 6:33 to accomplish, once again proving just how dangerous the veteran remains if unmarked. The hattrick mark also saw him move just one shy of Peter Bondra’s franchise record (19).
Tied at 4-4, the teams would head to overtime where the Sens were unable to capitalize on a Evgeny Kuznetsov holding penalty just over a minute in. The scores would remain locked and the resulting shootout saw the Sens move ahead after the first round after an uncharacteristic miss from T.J. Oshie. However, in a seemingly fitting result, Kyle Turris’ missed shot was followed by a goal to Ovechkin and a stunning save from Holtby on Brassard. This presented Kuznetsov with a chance to be the hero, which he duly seized.
In addition to the impressive work of the top line, Lars Eller was great all night as the Caps recorded their first season-opening triumph on the road since Oct. 1, 2009 when they beat the Bruins in Boston, 4-1.