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Capitals vs. Devils Recap: Last Twenty is Best Twenty; Caps Win Home Opener, 5-3

The Washington Capitals rolled out the red carpet on their 2015-16 season with a 5-3 win over their Newark neighbors.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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The Washington Capitals started their season with quick-strike goals by Jason Chimera and Brooks Orpik barely two minutes apart mid-way through the first period. The New Jersey Devils would be rude visitors, though, getting a pair of their own barely two minutes apart late in the first frame.

The second period was less frantic, but it did feature the Caps' first 5-on-3 power play of the season.  The Devils killed both ends of it.  That would be the high point of the evening for the Devils, though.  Washington scored three goals in the third period , one a highlight reel goal by Alex Ovechkin, to win going away.

Here's Opening Night's Plus/Minus:

  • Plus: A 55-second stretch of the third period. That's how long the Caps held the puck in the Devils' end after the referee raised his hand to signal a penalty on Adam Henrique. The Caps converted the ensuing power play, Marcus Johansson slamming home a deflected shot by Alex Ovechkin, but the 55-second study in keep-away that preceded it put the Caps' stickhandling and passing skills on display.
  • Minus: The five-on-three power play. With 1:38 of two-man advantage time, the Caps could not convert. It was not for getting shots from the wrong guys; Alex Ovechkin had three shots, while T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov had one apiece. The Caps even took a time out to set things up late in the power play, but at the end of it they still didn't find the back of the net.

Ten more notes on the game:

  • Home cooking got started early for the Caps with Jason Chimera getting the honor of the season’s first goal, shorthanded - the first time in franchise history in which the season's first goal came while down a man. He took a pass from Justin Williams and then, when trying to return the puck to Williams on a give-and-go, had the good fortune of Jordin Tootoo trying to redirect the puck away. Tootoo managed only to deflect the puck between goalie Keith Kinkaid’s pads, and the Caps were off.
  • Orpik, Brooks…It was a long time coming, but in his 79th game as a Capital, he finally recorded his first goal for the club. His overall goalless streak extended beyond his tenure in DC, a stretch of 91 regular season games without a goal that dated back to a tally for the Penguins back on March 16, 2014.
  • Maybe it was too much good fortune early, but the Caps had that whole "next shift" goal bite them in the backside after the Orpik goal, Adam Henrique getting the Devils on the board just 22 seconds after Orpik’s tally.
  • Even a new season did not wipe away the Caps’ tendency to get loose with two-goal leads. It took them barely five minutes to go from 2-0 to 2-2. Before the first period was over…next shift goal, blown two-goal lead. Well, at least they will have things to work on.
  • Chimera’s shorthanded goal was his first shorthanded strike since February 7, 2012, when he recorded a shortie in a 4-0 win over the Florida Panthers.
  • Orpik and John Carlson were the only Caps with more than one shot on goal in the first 29 minutes of the game. The Caps had only eight shots in that span, six of them by defensemen.
  • Offensive zone pressure by the fourth line forced the Devils into taking a penalty late in the second period. Then a silly penalty taken by Lee Stempniak 22 seconds later gave the Caps their first two-man advantage of the season
  • Keith Kinkaid was a wall for the Devils during the 5-on-3, stopping all five shots he faced in the two-minute stretch, including a point-blank attempt by T.J. Oshie on the end of a two-on-none break.
  • Injuries were an issue for the Caps coming into this game with Nicklas Backstrom being held out for perhaps the first week as he continues his recuperation from hip surgery, and Orpik playing his first game after sitting out the preseason after wrist surgery. There was some worry that another name would be added to the list. Tom Wilson got tangled up with Stempniak in front of the Caps’ net in the second period and fell awkwardly on his back. He came out for one more 18-second shift before sitting out the rest of the second period. Wilson did return for the third period.
  • Never let Alex Ovechkin get a head of steam down the left wing. John Moore learned this lesson the hard way as Ovechkin skated at him, fed the puck through his legs, came back on the other side of him, and left him in his wake as Ovechkin chipped the puck over Kinkaid’s left shoulder and under the crossbar for what might be the 349th highlight-reel goal in his career.

And now, this...

Game Highlights: