On a night where rookie Nathan Walker made history by becoming the first ever Australian-born NHL player, Karl Alzner returned to Washington for the first time since signing with the Canadiens, and the home season began at Capital One Arena, fans had more delicious story lines to choose from than a John Grisham cookbook.
Here's Saturday night's Plus/Minus:
Plus: Ovechkin must be from a planet no closer to Earth than Jupiter or Saturn. Much, much more on him below.
Minus: Tough to pick one. Maybe the eventual heat-death of the universe and our eternity in a void? But that’s a problem for another day when the Caps don’t win 6-1.
And now, this...
Ten more notes on the game:
1. Capital One Arena PA announcer Wes Johnson gave the invocation before puck drop: “This is our house. Welcome home, Caps fans!” And just like that, a new home season had begun at the corner of 7th and F in DC!
2. The big return on everyone’s minds was that of Karl Alzner, DC Iron Man and overall mustachioed nice fella. As always, the Capitals organization was straight class all the way, crafting a touching, heartfelt video tribute to Karl that left him fighting back emotion on the Montreal bench. Fittingly, the final image was a freeze-frame embrace with John Carlson. Like tears in the rain....
3. But then there was hockey to be played, AND BOY DID THEY PLAY SOME HOCKEY, FOLKS. Just 20 seconds into the game, O Captain My Captain Alex Ovechkin ripped a beauty of a turn-around wrist shot to give the Capitals the early 1-0 lead.
4. AND THEN, just 26 seconds later, bona fide American Hero and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Shaft T.J. Oshie said, “Me too,” and knocked home his first of the season, putting Washington up 2-0 before most fans had even gathered their popcorn and adult beverages and found their way to their seats.
5. But we weren’t done, sports fans! Alex Ovechkin, Man-About-Town if “Town” Is the Back of the Net, decided to double his pleasure and double our fun, potting his second goal of the night and lifting Washington to the early trifecta 3-0.
6. But, BUT, Ovechkin wasn’t even done yet, and brilliantly redirected an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot into the back of the net to complete his FIRST PERIOD HAT-TRICK and give the Caps a 4-0 lead at the first intermission. It is the first time in 100 YEARS that an NHL player has begun a season with back-to-back hat-tricks. Bow down, ye mortals, and quake before the righteous vengeance of the Hockey Cthulhu.
7. The second period began with some...unpleasantness. The Capitals took their foot off the pedal on a power play, and alas, allowed Montreal to score a short-handed goal to make it 4-1. It turns out power play forwards like Jakub Vrana are exceedingly bad at net-front defense. Who knew?
8. With 5 minutes left in the second period, Alex Ovechkin shuddered to life like the meaty diesel engine of an old farm tractor once more, and decided to score another goal off a net-front scuffle to make it 5-1 Capitals and give him four, FOUR, goals on the night. Alex Ovechkin scored more goals in this game than the Chicago Blackhawks did in the entire 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs. Print it on a shirt.
9. And the final goal of the evening went to the man of the hour, Australian Nate “G’Day Fosters Crocodile Hunter Sydney Opera House” Walker! Nate the Mate redirected an excellent Devante Smith-Pelly shot with his body and into the net, and the Capital One Arena crowd was treated to the wonderful, joyous image of Walker’s mother and family, here for the game all the way from Australia, cheering and crying and waving her Australian flag. Hockey is good, and it is for everyone. Even Aussies.
10. Not to be lost in all the hub-bub, Braden Holtby stopped a mammoth 38 of 39 shots for a .974 SV% with very little fanfare at all. “Just doing my job, Timmy,” Holtby reportedly told an imaginary young boy that I just made up.
THIS, this, was fun hockey. Rock the daggone red, folks. The Capitals are now undefeated, and gear up to face the Lightning on Monday in Tampa.