Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin rewrote another part of the record book in Wednesday night’s season-opening win over the New York Rangers, but newcomer Hendrix Lapierre stole a headline or two.
On Saturday night in the nation’s capital, Washington will need similar production from the three-time Hart Trophy winner and the rookie when it plays the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Russian sharpshooter tallied twice Wednesday, tying and then passing Marcel Dionne for fifth place on the NHL’s career goals list.
In scoring twice in the third period — once on the power play, the other short-handed — Ovechkin, 36, reached 732 markers.
The next two on the list are Brett Hull (741) and Jaromir Jagr (766). The final two spots belong to Gordie Howe (801) and all-time leader Wayne Gretzky (894).
“Yeah, just trying to do my job,” said the Caps’ captain after his rare penalty-kill ice time. “I just enjoy my time (playing).”
In his NHL debut, Lapierre netted a highlight-reel goal, sprung by a brilliant back-pass by T.J. Oshie. The 19-year-old center crashed into the end boards after potting his first career marker.
“For a first game, I don’t think I could have asked for a better one,” said Lapierre, a native of Gatineau, Quebec.
The Capitals won the battle of special teams, too: They went 3-for-6 on the power play (Oshie, Justin Schultz and Ovechkin) while denying four of the Rangers’ five man-advantages.
The Lightning narrowly fought off a two-game losing streak to start the season.
In a Thursday thriller in Detroit, they battled back from a trio of three-goal deficits to force overtime, with Ondrej Palat scoring from the doorstep for a 7-6 win.
Victor Hedman posted four assists, Nikita Kucherov scored and added three helpers and Steven Stamkos had two goals and one assist.
“Always when it’s six-goal games, the coaches are not happy,” Palat told Bally Sports Sun. “But we stuck with it and showed the character in the room. … I thought we played better than the first game.”
In that contest, Tuesday in Tampa, the Lightning were flat against Pittsburgh after an enthusiastic pregame ceremony that featured the Stanley Cup on the ice and a packed house.
Tampa Bay performed sloppily throughout, falling behind 3-0 in the third period and only able to muster two tallies with goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy off the ice and an extra skater on.
In the process during the final period, the home side surrendered three empty-net goals to the Penguins.
It was the first such occurrence in the regular season since Detroit scored a trio against the Buffalo Sabres in a 1984 game.
The defeat left a terrible taste in the mouths of those clad entirely in blue.
“(Pittsburgh) came here to win a hockey game,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper following the 6-2 loss. “We came here and watched the (Stanley Cup) banner-raising and then watched a team want to win a hockey game.
“We did a lot of watching tonight.”
Tampa Bay has yielded 12 goals this season and has scored six of its nine with an advantage — three times on the power play, three with its net empty and an extra skater on.
On the health front, defenseman Zach Bogosian suffered a lower-body injury and will be out four to six weeks after logging 14:14 of ice time Tuesday.
–Field Level Media