Two hat tricks in two games for Ovechkin

Caps star scores four; Walker 1st Aus­tralian to score in NHL

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - SPORTS - By Is­abelle Khur­shudyan

WASH­ING­TON — As the re­play of the Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals’ fourth goal of the game flashed across the videoboard, the ap­plause in Cap­i­tal One Arena grew louder. One hat dropped onto the ice and then an­other and an­other fol­lowed as fans squinted to see who last touched the puck.

Alex Ovechkin’s first two goals were no doubt his, stun­ning shots from his sweet spot in the left face­off cir­cle. The third re­quired a sec­ond and maybe a third look; Evgeny Kuznetsov’s shot was tipped be­fore go­ing into the net, but was it Ovechkin’s stick that got a piece of the puck? Re­play con­firmed it was in­deed Ovechkin’s goal, giv­ing him hat tricks in back-to-back games to open the sea­son.

Ovechkin added a fourth goal in the sec­ond pe­riod, and the Cap­i­tals cruised to a 6-1 win against the Mon­treal Cana­di­ens in their home opener. It was a his­toric night for Wash­ing­ton. Ovechkin is just the fourth player to open the sea­son with back-to-back hat tricks, and he’s the first to ac­com­plish that feat in 100 years, as three play­ers did it in the first ever NHL sea­son.

Then on the sixth goal of the game, De­vante Smith-Pelly’s shot bounced off for­ward Nathan Walker and into the net. Walker be­came the first Aus­tralian to ever play in an NHL game when he took his first shift of the game on Satur­day night. With his fam­ily in the stands, Walker also notched his first NHL goal.

It was ini­tially cred­ited to Smith-Pelly, who im­me­di­ately rec­og­nized the shot de­flected off Walker. He asked for the puck as a keep­sake for Walker, and when the scor­ing change was later an­nounced in the third pe­riod, Walker’s mother, Ceri, stood and wildly waved an Aus­tralian flag, cheer­ing with the rest of the arena. Ovechkin skated over the bench to give Walker a few taps on the hel­met.

Goal­tender Braden Holtby qui­etly recorded 38 saves in a home-opener few will for­get. The last time the Cap­i­tals played a game that counted here, it was a 2-0 loss to the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins in Game 7 of the teams’ sec­ond-round play­off se­ries. The dis­ap­point­ment from the post­sea­son exit hung over the team and the fan base through­out the sum­mer, but Satur­day night’s rout with mile­stones and per­sonal achieve­ments and ova­tions was an­other step in mov­ing for­ward.

Twenty sec­onds into the game, Ovechkin ripped a turn­around slap­per that re­sem­bled a base­ball swing, sail­ing the puck through two Mon­treal play­ers and over Cana­di­ens goal­tender Carey Price. TV:

BRIAN KRISTA/BAL­TI­MORE SUN ME­DIA GROUP

Howard quar­ter­back Robby Porter (6) cel­e­brates his touch­down run with team­mates, from left, Ai­den O'Con­nor, John McGuire and Daniel Blades dur­ing the Lions’ vic­tory over Long Reach High on Satur­day.

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