So: how would it go down?
Here’s Wednesday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Evgeny Kuznetsov recorded 4 points, and Alex Ovechkin notched 2 goals to pass Bobby Hull for 17th all-time, chalking up his 610 and 611th career goals.
Minus: The defense took a few knocks tonight, with Michal Kempny taking two minor penalties and Brooks Orpik taking a knock on the noggin (more on that below).
And now, this...
Ten more notes on the game:
1. It’s Stanley Cup Final rematch night, folks, as the Capitals took on the Vegas Golden Knights at Capital One Arena. As you may know, the Capitals came into tonight enjoying a 4-game winning streak against the Knights. Who would come out of the gate in the new season with more to prove?
2. While the rematch would feature 28 of the 40 players that took the ice in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, this first back-by-popular-demand sequel would hit the big screen without Washington’s Tom Wilson (suspension) or Vegas’ Nate Schmidt (suspension), Paul Stastny (injury), or Alex Tuch (injury). This clash would, however, feature defenseman Michal Kempny (making his season debut after a preseason concussion suffered against St. Louis), left winger Dmitrij Jaskin (recently arrived from St. Louis), and Vegas’ Max Pacioretty (arrived in a trade from Montreal).
3. Both teams fired lots of chances both ways in the first, with goalies Braden Holtby and Marc-Andre Fleury doing everything they could to keep their respective clubs in the race. Two-thirds of the way through the period, Vegas winger William Carrier hit Brooks Orpik behind the net, lifting him up in the process and dropping him directly on his fragile, crucial neck. Trainers helped Orpik off the ice, but he would return in the second period.
4. But despite the fireworks, the first blood wouldn’t come until the final sixty seconds of the frame. With the Capitals on a power play, a patiently lurking Nicklas Backstrom, like a disgruntled wolf spider, took his sweet time before pouncing, springing a perfect pass onto Evgeny Kuznetsov’s paddle in the crease that Kuzy popped into the net to make it 1-0 Washington after twenty.
5. The second period featured even more fireworks, with plenty of goals-as-arson to heat up Capital One Arena. O Captain My Captain Alex Ovechkin stuck the Capitals to a two-goal lead early in the second. Evgeny Kuznetsov sped down the wing, then deked a man to death so badly he fell onto his belly, helpless as an invalid clam. Ovechkin blasted home the biscuit from his circular cubicle and made it 2-0 Washington.
6. But former Capital and current Golden Knight Cody Eakin brought Vegas back within one. Eakin streaked down the wing, burning defenseman Christian Djoos around the back of the net. Eakin wrapped around the cage and stuffed the puck in like a corpulent tortellini past Braden Holtby, cutting it to 2-1 Caps after forty minutes.
7. And the third period would be a sprint to the finish for both teams. The Capitals struck first in the final stanza, with wizard wunderkind Evgeny Kuznetsov delivering a pristine package onto the paddle of Nicklas Backstrom, returning the favor to Slick Nick With the Quick Stick and making it 3-1 in the process.
8. But Vegas’ top line golden boy Reilly Smith said, Not so fast. Smith dented the twine, bringing Vegas back within one, 3-2.
9. Washington answered back quickly, though, with Evgeny Kuznetsov claiming his fourth point of the night, an utterly lascivious toe drag cross-slot assist, feeding Alex Ovechkin Who Does Not Miss, making it 4-2 Capitals late.
10. Vegas’ new toy Max Pacioretty made things interesting still. MaxPac caught a lovely cross-crease assist after another wraparound (Holtby seemed to struggle with those tonight), tapping it in to make it 4-3. BUT THE CAPITALS’ VIDEO CREW WAS ON THE CASE, and the goal came off the board after a coach’s challenge for offsides. Todd “The Bod” Reirden is now 1-for-1 on the year on video reviews. It remained 4-2.
And with Marc-Andre Fleury on the bench, T.J. Oshie tossed home the full-ice empty-netter, and the Capitals went home winners, 5-2.
The Capitals are now 2-0-1, against three playoff teams. Not bad, boys. Next up is the New Jersey Devils Thursday night in Newark.