There has been no shortage of fireworks during the Washington Capitals’ opening week. A four-game home stand to start the season before the team’s first West Coast road trip had the Caps hoping to start off the season without a hitch, if possible.
Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (70) deflects the shot by Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81), from Slovakia, as defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) defends in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
But after a 5-3 win over the New Jersey Devils in their season opener at the Verizon Center on Oct. 10, star left winger Alex Ovechkin didn’t seem particularly happy with his team’s performance.
“Our line didn’t play well in the first two periods,” said Ovechkin, who skated alongside the newly-signed T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov. “In the third, we started moving the puck and we controlled the puck.”
In that third period, Ovechkin forcefully created another highlight-worthy goal to give the Caps a commanding lead.
Washington needed to be focused and at full strength for their next game, as they welcomed the Western Conference powerhouse San Jose Sharks to D.C. on Oct. 13. Alas, that wasn’t the case. Center Niklas Backstrom was still a couple of games away from making his season debut, and Ovechkin was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career because he missed the morning skate. That news seemed to deflate the rest of the squad en route to a listless 5-0 defeat.
There was no time to wallow in self-pity, however, as the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks made their sole appearance at the Verizon Center this season on Oct. 15. The Caps bounced back, as goalie Braden Holtby stopped 26 shots, Ovechkin contributed a goal in his return and the Capitals cruised to a 4-1 victory. John Carlson, Oshie and Matt Niskanen also scored for the Capitals.
Washington’s tilt against the Carolina Hurricanes on Oct. 17 became a celebration of Backstrom’s return from off-season hip surgery. The star did not disappoint the raucous Verizon Center faithful as he scored one goal and two assists in a 4-1 triumph. Three third-period goals, including one by Ovechkin, provided the winning margin as Holtby made 18 saves in the victory.
Winning three of four in their opening home stand was a solid way to get the 2015 season campaign underway. If Washington can take this momentum into their upcoming three-game Western Canada road trip, things will continue to look bright for the Capitals.