The Washington Capitals opened their 2015-2016 season against the New Jersey Devils at Verizon center on Saturday night. For the Devils, this was the second game in as many days. The Devils lost their season and home opener, 3-1 to the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night. Devils backup goalie Keith Kinkaid got the start in net for the back-end of the back-to-back. The Capitals lines for the season opener:
Stanislav Galiev, Taylor Chorney, Chris Brown and Nicklas Backstrom did not dress for the initial contest.
The first line was very sluggish in this one, unable to generate much in the way of chances, until late in the third period. We saw a little bit of that first-line sluggishness in the preseason. Jason Chimera had a goal and assist in the first period. The Caps penalty kill looked disorganized on the Devils second power play, but rallied later in the game. Not much else to draw from this first contest of the season.
Trotz started the game with his third line, as he did quite a few times last season. A sluggish, but quickly-paced first period as the teams traded an even amount of chances in the first 10 minutes of play. The Devils had a good shift at the 11 minute mark, with several decent chances, but to no avail. Evgeny Kuznetsov was called for hooking at the 10:24 mark, giving the Devils the games first power play. However it was the Capitals that scored a “shorthander” at the 12:04 mark on a nice give-and-go between Justin Williams and Jason Chimera, with Chimera punching it in. Williams and Carlson got the assists. Brooks Orpik gave the Caps a 2-0 lead with a shot from the slot at 14:32 in the first. Tom Wilson and Jason Chimera got the assists. Unfortunately, the Devils quickly returned favor 22 seconds later with a goal by Adam Henrique. Soon after, the Capitals Sean Collins was called for holding at 16:34, giving the Devils their second power play of the period. This time the Devils were able to cash-in on a blast by Gelinas, tying the game 2-2 at the 17:40 mark. That’s how the period would end. Devils had both 1st period PPs, an 11-6 lead in SOG, a 24-15 lead in attempts, 17-14 in hits and 12-10 in draws.
The first half of the second period was relatively uneventful with very few chances for both sides. The first lines continued to struggle to generate any decent chances. Tom Wilson left the ice with a lower body injury (leg) at the 12:02 mark in the period. The Capitals would finally go on their first power play when Gelinas was sent off at 14:39 of second period for cross-checking. 22 seconds in the Devils Stempniak was called for hooking, giving the Capitals a 5-on-3 for 1:38. Holtby made a heads-up pass to T.J. Oshie during a Devils line change for a break away, but Oshie was stuffed with a stick check by Kinkaid. The Capitals were unable to generate any additional pressure as both penalties expired without a Capitals tally. Tom Wilson would return at the 17:00 mark, tried the leg for one shift but returned to the dressing room. The period would go scoreless, with the game remaining tied at 2-2.
The third period started a big sluggish for the Caps, but they would soon go on a power play at the 3:34 mark. The Caps generated a couple of decent chances by Kuznetsov and Burakovsky, but no pay-day. Then Alex Ovechkin broke out the dazzling moves as he has been known to do against the Devils, scoring on one of his patented toe-drag moves at the 6:33 mark.
The Capitals had to go on the penalty kill for a John Carlson holding minor at 8:33 of third. The Caps penalty kill looked pretty good at this point, successfully killing off the penalty. The Capitals went back on the power play at 11:48. Marcus Johansson would capitalize on an Ovechkin rush, taking a wild Ovechkin shot and chipping it in the net, giving the Caps a 4-2 lead with 7:16 left in the 3rd period.
Up 4-2 with 4:38 left, the Capitals went back on the power play. The Devils actually pulled their goalie during the power play, which yielded an empty net, power play goal to Matt Niskanen, giving the Caps a 5-2 lead. The Devils were able to punch-in a late goal with 1:21 left in the 3rd period, narrowing the lead to 5-3 Caps. Caps would hold on for the win 5-3.