WASHINGTON (AP) — Alex Ovechkin and the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals opened their title defense with a 7-0 thrashing of the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.
After watching the franchise’s first Stanley Cup banner ascend to the rafters, T.J. Oshie opened the scoring just 24 seconds in, and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the first of his two goals 1 1/2 minutes later to get the rout off to a fast start. It was the fastest first two goals by a defending champion in a season opener in NHL history — and it was just the beginning.
By midway through the second period, the Capitals chased goalie Tuukka Rask with five goals on 19 shots and ignited chants of “Back-to-back! Back-to-back!” from the fired-up crowd. Braden Holtby stopped all 25 shots he faced to improve to 15-2 with four shutouts against the Bruins.
The emotional banner ceremony featured montages from the Capitals’ playoff run and ensuing celebrations and a roar when Ovechkin carried the freshly engraved Cup onto the ice and skated a lap with it. Minutes after Ovechkin kissed the Cup and put it back in its box, he and his teammates blew away any concern about an emotional letdown and began making a statement that they want to win it back.
In Todd Reirden’s first game as coach, the Capitals beat the Bruins for the 13th consecutive time, this time without Tom Wilson. Washington’s top-line right winger began his 20-game suspension for another illegal check to the head of an opponent in a preseason game.
Ovechkin scored one of four power-play goals, Kuznetsov scored his second on the power play and John Carlson beat Boston backup Jaroslav Halak on a 5-on-3 advantage. Newcomer Nic Dowd joined the fun with a spinning back-hander, and Cup-clinching goal-scorer Lars Eller added the exclamation point with the seventh of the night.
MAPLE LEAFS 3, CANADIENS 2, OT
TORONTO (AP) — Auston Matthews scored his second goal of the game in overtime, John Tavares scored his first goal for Toronto and the Maple Leafs beat Montreal in the opener for both teams.
Matthews took a feed from Patrick Marleau and beat goalie Carey Price 1:01 into the extra period.
Frederik Andersen stopped 34 shots, and Nazem Kadri had two assists for the Maple Leafs.
Artturi Lehkonen and Andrew Shaw scored for Montreal, and Price made 23 saves. Max Domi, the son of former Leafs tough guy Tie Domi, had two assists in his first game for the Canadiens.
Montreal’s Jesperi Kotkaniemi, the first NHL player born in the 2000s, picked up an assist. The Finn, who turned 18 in July, also became the second-youngest player in Canadiens’ history to score a point.
DUCKS 5, SHARKS 2
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — John Gibson made 31 saves, Brandon Montour scored the tiebreaking goal with 11:58 to play and the Anaheim Ducks spoiled Erik Karlsson’s San Jose debut.
Rickard Rakell added a goal and two assists, Max Comtois scored on his opening shift in the NHL and Adam Henrique also had a goal in the first game for the Ducks since getting swept in the first round by San Jose last spring. Jakob Silfverberg had three assists and Carter Rowney scored an empty-net goal for Anaheim.
Evander Kane and Tomas Hertl scored for the Sharks but Martin Jones allowed four goals on the first 13 shots he faced to take the loss. Jones finished with 10 saves.
CANUCkS 5, FLAMES 2
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Rookie Elias Pettersson scored on his first shot in his first NHL game, and Vancouver beat Calgary.
Nikolay Goldobin, Brendan Leipsic, Jake Virtanen and Tyler Motte also scored for Vancouver. Jacob Markstrom stopped 33 shots.
Matthew Tkachuk and Sean Monahan had goals for the Flames, and Mike Smith finished with 18 saves.
Pettersson opened the scoring with 6:12 left in the first period, picking up the puck in the neutral zone, springing into the Calgary end with teammate Derrick Pouliot on a 2-on-1. Petterson kept the puck and fired a wrist shot into the top of the net.
The goal brought chants of “Petter-sson” from the crowd.