Yeah, that’s about right. Just when you thought the Caps had gone all kinds of wrong with their struggling younglings and error-prone veterans, one hulking figure stepped through the mist, scored three goals, and told us all for damn sure that this team won’t be suck this year. Hosted by the Ottawa Senators, the season-opener was your typical Caps game: discombobulated and disorganized, then, suddenly, transcendentally beautiful off the stick of Alex Ovechkin.
In the first period, Chris Wideman plopped a soft one on Braden Holtby to kick off the season much like the last season ended. No worries though. Brett Connolly – who wasn’t allowed to play in 86 percent of the Pittsburgh series – scored on his very first shot of the season.
John Carlson goofed on a neutral-zone pass in the second period, which let Mark Stone restore Ottawa’s lead, which carried into the third.
There, Derick Brassard got a layup after a bad clear by Niskanen left Braden Holtby vulnerable. Now buckle up. Alex Ovechkin started tunneling out with a one-timer set up by Evgeny Kuznetsov, who secured the takeaway. Ovi wasn’t done there – he finished off a tic-tac-toe sequence with Vrana and Kuznetsov to tie the game 83 seconds later. Then Devante Smith-Pelly coughed the puck up in neutral to give Mark Stone the go-ahead goal, momentarily spoiling the comeback effort until Ovi scored again to record his 18th career hat trick with nine minutes left, forcing overtime.
Tired at the end of a 3-on-3 overtime shift, Kuznetsov got called for holding, but stout work by Brooks Orpik held the Senators off for a shootout.
New season, same ol’ shootout bullets!
Caps beat the Senators 5-4 in the shootout!
Ness hip check fail cc @Chaggin10 pic.twitter.com/OmxHYFvR0S
— steph (@myregularface) October 6, 2017
John Carlson checks Nicklas Backstrom pic.twitter.com/mpysWlZOMO
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) October 6, 2017
The #Caps are up 17-10 in 5v5 shot attempts after the first period, via @HockeyStatsCa pic.twitter.com/BqY4XoLyMG
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) October 6, 2017
#JoeBSuitOfTheNight #CapsSens The season opener! pic.twitter.com/c5MPQQJE9n
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) October 5, 2017
Joe B suit of the night
What do you know about the 2017-18 Capitals that you didn’t know before? I watched 60 minutes of hockey, I consulted my spreadsheets, I listened to the pundits, and I still know nothing. The players I was worried about continue to worry me, but that could be my own preconceptions at work. Early on, Braden Holtby looked a little too much like he did in May and not nearly enough like he did in January. That’s not great, but he adjusted and finished strong.
And then there’s Ovi. Turns out Alex Ovechkin is still a hungry grizzly bear rummaging around the net for the pot of honey that he freaking knows you hid there.
But, really, I don’t know anything yet, not really, save this: Thank goodness, hockey is back. Ovi’s here to do brilliant things on ice. Joe B and Locker are back to keep me company. Baby Dre is back looking slightly less babyish and playing like a large adult son. Even the stupid shootout was lovely. And this silly sport, however horrible the world around it, is still the funnest and bestest. Yay!
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