Alex Ovechkin moved a few steps nearer to Wayne Gretzky’s targets file, Hendrix Lapierre scored the primary of his NHL profession and the Washington Capitals made their season opener an important one for scoring as an alternative of preventing.
The fisticuffs by no means materialized towards the division-rival New York Rangers, and the Capitals made their 5-1 victory Wednesday evening memorable for Ovechkin passing Marcel Dionne for fifth on the profession targets listing and Lapierre scoring in his debut with Gretzky offering the soundtrack.
Ovechkin after scoring his 731st and 732nd targets returned to the chorus of “recreation by recreation, daily” in pursuit of Gretzky’s mark was extra enthused about Lapierre getting No. 1 at age 19.
“I advised him earlier than, ‘Simply shoot the puck,'” Ovechkin mentioned. “He’s a gifted child, enjoyable to look at and clearly I hope he’s gonna have an important future.”
Ovechkin wants 163 targets to go Gretzky, who was concerned from afar in Lapierre’s emotional second, speaking about his relationship with the Russian famous person on nationwide tv whereas the rookie put the puck into the online and went sliding into the boards. Lapierre was all smiles after his dad and mom, grandparents, brother, sister and girlfriend witnessed his NHL debut as a part of a sellout crowd and can at all times have the “Nice One” on the spotlight reel of his first objective.
“For a primary recreation, I do not suppose I may have requested for a greater one,” Lapierre mentioned.
The hype getting in was extra in regards to the aftermath of incidents between these groups final season and the modifications the Rangers revamped the summer season to get greater and harder. They debuted a new-look lineup that includes gritty forwards Barclay Goodrow and Sammy Blais, enforcer Ryan Reaves and large defensemen Patrik Nemeth and Jarred Tinordi, however the closest factor to a combat was a pair of roughing penalties within the first interval.
Penalties — 9 of them — derailed the Rangers all evening.
“Particularly towards a group like Washington you don’t need to take too many penalties,” heart Mika Zibanejad mentioned. “That’s one thing we have now to get higher at sooner or later and take into consideration however with out taking something away from our aggressiveness and enjoying onerous.”
Washington targets adopted a couple of of these penalties. After T.J. Oshie opened the scoring on the ability play within the first, Justin Schultz added a power-play objective within the second and Lapierre scored 24 seconds afterward a two-on-one rush.
Ovechkin added one other on the ability play from his trademark spot within the faceoff circle to make it 4-0. Chris Kreider scored on the ability play for New York halfway by way of the third interval, however that was the one objective Vitek Vanecek gave up on 24 photographs towards.
And Ovechkin wasn’t executed. He scored a short-handed objective — simply the fifth of his profession — to place the sport out of attain.
Ovechkin joked afterward he at all times tells assistant coach Scott Arniel he is able to play on the penalty kill. The Capitals will go on that, and let Ovechkin maintain scoring targets for the remainder of his new, five-year contract.
Alexandar Georgiev allowed 5 targets on 27 Capitals photographs, getting the nod within the first half of a back-to-back with common starter Igor Shesterkin anticipated to be in web for the Rangers house opener.
“Just a few breakdowns and odd-man rushes,” reigning Norris Trophy successful defenseman Adam Fox mentioned. “Simply tighten up. We don’t have an excessive amount of time to dwell on it.”
NHL EYES GAME
Commissioner Gary Bettman, Deputy Commissioner Invoice Daly and senior vice chairman of participant security George Parros had been all in attendance for the primary Rangers-Capitals assembly since a recreation final season included six fights within the first 5 minutes.
Blais and Washington defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk bought into it lower than two minutes in, however officers stepped in between them and different potential combatants earlier than anybody may drop the gloves.
It was clear the message had gotten by way of to play hockey and never flip the evening right into a boxing occasion.
“Our gamers and our coaches and our managers are professionals,” Bettman mentioned beforehand. “They know what’s anticipated of them, and we predict it could be finest if everyone centered on being on the best aspect of the road versus the flawed aspect of the road.”
LAVIOLETTE SETS RECORD
Washington’s Peter Laviolette earned his 674th NHL win, passing John Tortorella for the file amongst American-born coaches.
“I’ve simply labored with actually good individuals,” Laviolette mentioned. “It’s not one man successful. it’s a group that’s successful, and so I take into consideration that and I take into consideration all of the folks that I’ve linked with all through my teaching profession and I’m grateful greater than the rest.
Rangers: Host the Dallas Stars on Thursday of their house opener at Madison Sq. Backyard.
Capitals: Host the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday evening.