The Washington Capitals had to wait until tonight for their season opener, but Alex Ovechkin made sure it was worth the wait by leading them to a 5-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils.
With the game tied at two early in the third period, Ovechkin completely outmaneuvered Devils defenseman John Moore before rocketing a top-shelf shot past goalie Keith Kinkaid:
That goal opened the floodgates as Ovechkin’s efforts led to Marcus Johansson scoring his first goal of the season. Matt Niskanen then scored an empty netter with 2:53 remaining in the contest.
Devils forward Mike Cammalleri fired back, preventing Ovechkin’s goal from being considered the game winner, but it was nevertheless too little, too late for New Jersey.
The Devils are now 0-2-0 and will have to wait until Tuesday when they play against Nashville for their next opportunity to secure a victory. Washington will look to keep its early momentum going Tuesday against the Sharks.
Related: Video: Orpik nets first goal with Caps
Not every player gets to score his first career goal on two separate occasions.
Of course, that’s not really accurate. Trevor van Riemsdyk was originally credited with his first marker on Nov. 9, 2014, but it was later given to Kris Versteeg. This time around it’s pretty clear that it was van Riemsdyk’s marker.
The 24-year-old defenseman was playing in his 21st career game. He began the 2014-15 campaign with the Blackhawks, but a left patella fracture and then wrist injury sidelined him for most of the season and playoffs.
He’s a product of the University of New Hampshire and is the younger brother of Toronto Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk.
Artemi Panarin picked up an assist on van Riemsdyk’s goal, giving the ex-KHL star turned NHL rookie two points in three games.
Fortunately, the Washington Capitals aren’t paying Brooks Orpik for his goal-scoring prowess. That means his contribution tonight can be regarded as a bonus more than anything.
In the first campaign of Orpik’s five-year, $27.5 million deal, the defenseman didn’t score a single goal in 78 contests. It took him less than one period to find the back of the net this season, as you can see above. He needs just one more to tie his career high.
For Orpik, it was his first goal since April 21, 2014 during a playoff game with the Penguins. If we were just to count his regular season markers, then Orpik hadn’t scored since March 16, 2014.
With this goal, he now has 14 markers in 781 career regular season games.
Orpik’s goal gave Washington a 2-0 lead, but New Jersey rallied back late in the first period to tie the game before the intermission.
For all the times Steve Mason has helped crush the Florida Panthers, they got their revenge tonight.
The Philadelphia Flyers goaltender couldn’t withstand the Panthers’ early barrage as he allowed four goals on eight shots in just under seven minutes. That showing led to Mason being mercifully pulled in favor of Michal Neuvirth.
Obviously, any goalie that has that kind of night had some problems, but Mason looked particularly bad on the final goal he surrendered. In that incidence a misguided passing attempt by him led to Vincent Trocheck getting a clear shot at an empty net. Trocheck ended up hitting the post, but there was still enough time left for Jussi Jokinen to collect the rebound and make it 4-0:
Prior to this game, Mason had a career 7-2-1 record, 1.48 GAA, and .953 save percentage in 10 games against Florida.
Oscar Lindberg couldn’t have asked for a better start to his NHL career.
After finding the back of the net in each of his first two contests of 2015-16, Lindberg kept that goal scoring streak alive with a marker just 1:20 minutes into tonight’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
As you can see above, Kevin Hayes got things started by collecting a bad pass in the Blue Jackets’ zone. That set up Hayes for a one-on-one attempt against Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and while he was unable to find the back of the net, Lindberg was in position to scoop up the rebound and collect the goal.
Less than four minutes later, Lindberg found the back of the net again. That the goal needed to be reviewed to determine if there was a distinct kicking motion, but it was eventually ruled as his fourth goal of the season. By contrast, the rest of the Rangers have scored six times.