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Caps vs. Sens Recap: Ovechkin Hat-Trick Lifts Caps to 5-4 Shootout Victory

The Washington Capitals started the season in the black, recording a 5-4 shootout victory over the Ottawa Senators on the captain’s broad, burly shoulders.

NHL: Washington Capitals at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals and Alex Ovechkin decided to send a message to the entire league on Thursday night, and that message was Alex Ovechkin is still pretty darn good. With three from the captain and mixed results from the rookies, this game was a blast.

Here's Thursday night's Plus/Minus:

Plus: Alex Ovechkin’s still got it, baby! What better response to, well, any problem in life than to score a hat-trick and celebrate all the way home?

Minus: That defensive 3rd-pairing...woof. Taylor Chorney and Aaron Ness have some work to do.

And now, this...

Ten more notes on the game:

1. Happy New Season, y’all! With the 2017-2018 season kicking off trepidly like an inexperienced punter, and the Capitals’ roster cratered like the gooey cheese face of the Moon, what would the campaign hold for the back-to-back defending Presidents Trophy winners?

2. And with a new season comes a new cast! Gone are stalwarts Alzner, Williams, Schmidt, Johansson, and Winnik, and also Kevin Shattenkirk. In were new faces Tyler Graovac, Aaron Ness, Devante Smith-Pelly, Jakub Vrana, Alex Chiasson, and Taylor Chorney. Who would step up, and who would do better to just step the hell out?

3. Ottawa struck first, as defenseman Chris Wideman tried his luck and wished upon an icy star with a hopeful sharp angle shot. It squirted through Holtby’s armpit like a spritz of AXE, and the Senators took a 1-0 lead.

4. Later in the first period, the new third line of Lars Eller, Brett Connolly, and Washington greenhorn Alex Chiasson struck for the Capitals. Lars Eller presented a gorgeous bump-set pass off a turnover to Brett Connolly like an engagement ring, and Connolly said “I do” to a heads-up HULK SMASH one-timer to tie the game 1-1. Eller and Connolly’s line with Andre Burakovsky posted the 9th-best possession numbers in the entire NHL last season, so watch these two cook up some more razzle-dazzle stew.

5. The Capitals successfully fought off two penalty kills in the first period, including one taken by 3rd-pair-er Aaron Ness, who flat-out got beaten behind the goal and held the forward’s stick to keep from getting smoked. Ness had plenty of troubles Thursday night, including, uh......this little mishap when trying to execute a hip check.

6. In the second period, Mark Stone made it 2-1 Senators, right in the face of Brooks Orpik and John Carlson, who happened to be on the ice for both goals.

7. Then, early in the third period, the Senators Derick Brassard ripped the disc past Holtby to make it 3-1 Senators. BUT WE WERE NOT DONE FOLKS, not by a long shot.

8. Alex Ovechkin, a man more made of childhood innocence and fantasy than mortal puckmonger, came to the rescue. First, he launched a beautiful wrister to stop the bleeding and make it 3-2 Sens. THEN, mere moments later, he converted a gorgeous set-up from his shiny new linemates Jakub Vrana and Evgeny Kuznetsov to tie this bad boy up 3-3. Of course, that dastardly Mark Stone struck again (making it four goals within four minutes) to give the Senators a 4-3 lead in the dwindling moments...but do you think your captain would let that happen to you? AN OVECHKIN HAT-TRICK put this contest into over time, and eventually, into a shootout. * Jack-o-Lanterns cackle, black cats screech *

9. Ovechkin and Kuznetsov would score in the shootout, while Holtby nearly ripped his groin in twain to make a jaw-dropping save, and THE CAPITALS WON 5-4!

10. Standouts and Oh, my, that’s unfortunate’s...? To the good, Devante Smith-Pelly distinguished himself from the very first shift, embodying the ideal fourth-liner and imposing his will as all piss and chaos. On the other, more cerebral end of the offensive spectrum, linemates Brett Connolly and Lars Eller stood out, with a special emphasis on the latter’s studly passing. And then, of course, there’s the fearless leader Alex Ovechkin, who, you know, put the team on his back like a tired kindergartener and lifted it to victory. On the other end, Aaron Ness and his partner Taylor Chorney need to take this game as a real gut-check, and get their heads right before playing Montreal at home on Saturday.

You love to see the good guys get out to a victory, folks! I’m thrilled, are you? Sure, there’s some holes. Okay...a lot. Mostly on defense, and with some odd, rookie rust on offense, but we’ll take it! Two standings points, and the Capitals are tied for first place in the entire NHL. Print it, paint it, tattoo it.

Next up is the Montreal Canadiens at home on Saturday at Capital One Arena.