Is it too early to be talking wire-to-wire Southeast Division Championships? I figured. But what a night! For me, personally, it got off to a great start with dinner at Capital Q (I know you don't care where I ate, but this place is so good it deserves a plug) and then I got my Rod Langway jersey signed by none other than the Secretary of Defense himself (no, not that one, that one).
On to the game, where the teams felt each other out during a scoreless first(though it should be noted that in the first minute of the game, Alex Ovechkin delivered an absolutely thunderous check on defenseman Radoslav Suchy that dislodged a support in the glass), but got the action going in earnest in the second. Dan Fritsche opened the scoring for Columbus just under seven minutes in, but before the PA announcer could even announce the goal, Ovechkin blasted a one-timer past Pascal Leclaire, sending 16,325 Caps fans to their feet. Fritsche scored a second goal three minutes later, only to be answered again by Ovechkin, this time banging in a rebound on the power play. Five minutes later with the Caps again a man to the good, Jeff Halpern sent a pass across the crease to Dainius Zubrus for an easy tap-in. That would be it for the scoring, as the Caps held on for a 3-2 win.
My initial impressions of the game: Olie Kolzig was sharp (35 saves, though he looked shaky in the sequence leading up to the Jax second goal), the penalty killing was great, Mathieu Biron was terrible (rough night when you're a -2 on a team that wins 3-2), and, of course, Alexander was, well, great. The crowd was also terrific, but the game production at MCI Center was embarassingly bad. All in all, I hope Caps fans savored this one because, quite frankly, this year it might not get any better than this.
The WaPo's coverage is here, and Michael Wilbon writes a column that assumes (probably correctly) that his readers share his ignorance about hockey ("Did you know Dominik Hasek is in Ottawa, not Detroit?" Yes, Mike, we did. And if we didn't, we likely wouldn't be reading an article about hockey by a guy who knows next to nothing about the sport). Wilbon even gets a dig in on Ovechkin ("there was that breakaway goal he let slip away on a deke"), but not even Michael Wilbon can piss in our Cheerios this morning. The WTimes coverage is here and the Baltimore Sun has a pair of articles, here and here (the latter is just the AP game summary).
News & notes from around the League:
- A few opening night injuries, including Rick Nash (ankle), Mats Sundin (eye) and Kari Lehtonen (groin).
- Ottawa has acquired defenseman Filip Novak from Florida for a pick and assigned him to Binghamton of the AHL.
Hart: Martin Brodeur (W, 36 saves, 1 GA versus Pittsburgh)
Ross: Jason Arnott (G, 3A)
Norris: Sergei Zubov (2G, A)
- Vezina: Roberto Luongo (34 save shutout win)
- Calder: Alexander Ovechkin (2G)
Richard: Marc Chouinard (3G)