Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
After a sluggish start to the game in Ottawa on Thursday night, the Capitals rallied back in the third period on an Alex Ovechkin hattrick and ended up stealing a 5-4 shootout victory. The Capitals had plenty of mistakes in the game that were very costly, but the Capitals had a strong game at even strength. The Capitals will now return home briefly and open their home slate against the 1-0 Montreal Canadiens on Saturday evening. Puck drop is at 7 PM on NBC Sports Washington.
On Thursday night, The Canadiens defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in the shootout. Forward Jonathan Drouin recorded an assist and the shootout winner in his first regular season game with the Canadiens. The Habs star netminder Carey Price made 43 saves in the contest. Former Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner, who signed with the Canadiens over the summer, recorded an assist and recorded 21:28 of icetime in his Habs debut.
The Canadiens are a well-coached team under Head Coach Claude Julien. Their big offseason acquisition of Jonathan Drouin could not have come at a better time for them. Drouin, 22, became unhappy over the last year in Tampa Bay, and was sent to the Canadiens in June in a package that included young defenseman Mikhail Sergachev.
Like a lot of the other Canadiens forwards, Drouin is fast and highly-skilled. He can play centre or wing, and has an excellent scoring touch.
Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber took a therapy day on Friday, but is expected to play against Washington. Goaltender Carey Price is expected to get the start for the Canadiens in net.
Julien confirme que Price obtiendra le départ samedi à Washington.
Julien confirms that Price will get the start on Saturday in Washington.#GoHabsGo
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) October 6, 2017
The Capitals squeaked out a victory over a very tough Ottawa Senators team after Alex Ovechkin’s third period heroics. However, there were 3 big turnovers in the game, which led to Ottawa’s goals. The Capitals have a lot to clean up after 1 game, but these sloppy plays are correctable.
Moving past the mistakes the Capitals made, there were some positive things that came from their shootout victory in Ottawa. Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and newcomer Jakub Vrana showed excellent chemistry as a trio forward line. Vrana finished the game with 2 assists, and recorded 5 shots on goal. Kuznetsov finished with 3 assists in the game.
Everyone has seen what Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov can do on the ice, but Vrana had an outstanding opening game. Vrana showed excellent skating ability and power to get around defenders. Vrana created more open space for Ovechkin, and showed flashes of brilliance in his play. Expect Barry Trotz to keep this forward line together for a little while longer if they continue to produce well like they did against the Senators.
The Capitals did not give much icetime to their third defensive pairing of Aaron Ness and Taylor Chorney in Ottawa. Both skaters finished with under 13 minutes of icetime. John Carlson led all Capitals skaters with 27:45 icetime in Ottawa. Expect Barry Trotz to keep experimenting with the defensive pairs in the early stages of the season.
It appears the Capitals will have a lineup change on Saturday night. Nathan Walker is expected to make his Capitals debut. He will become the first Aussie player to ever play in the NHL.
Nathan Walker will make his NHL debut tomorrow, becoming the first Aussie to play in the NHL.
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) October 6, 2017
A LOOK BACK IN TIME
The Capitals played the Canadiens in Montreal during the preseason. The Capitals claimed a 4-2 victory up in Montreal. Here are the highlights from that game:
Here is current Canadiens and former Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner before the matchup against his former team.
— Tarik El-Bashir (@TarikNBCS) October 6, 2017
By: George Foussekis