Two hat tricks in two games for Ovechkin
Caps star scores four; Walker 1st Australian to score in NHL
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:
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.