Ovechkin (4 goals) matches century-old mark; Caps rip Canadiens
WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin is on pace to score 287 goals this season.
That’s not going to happen, but Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals are certainly pleased with the veteran winger’s sizzling start.
Ovechkin followed up his opening night hat trick with a historic four-goal performance and the Capitals routed the Montreal Canadiens 6-1 at Capital One Arena on Saturday night.
Ovechkin became the fourth NHL player to have a hat trick in each of his team’s first two games of a season and the first since 1917, when three players did it.
“Obviously, yeah,” Ovechkin said when asked if he and the Capitals were off to a perfect start.
“My wife ... her sister’s here (from Russia) and every time she’s in town like I score a hat trick. Back-to-back and she’s leaving Monday. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to talk to someone to keep her here.”
After scoring three goals in the third period of Thursday’s opener, Ovechkin lit the lamp three times in the first period, igniting a shower of hats onto the ice when he made it 4-0 with 1:50 left.
Ovechkin, who started the scoring 20 seconds in, picked up his 19th career hat trick to tie him with Peter Bondra for the all-time franchise lead. This after slumping — for him — to 33 goals a year ago.
“I think the biggest thing is, to me, Alex is skating, and he’s getting those pucks and his shot is undeniable,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said of the 32-year-old Ovechkin. “When he’s moving his feet, you just need that space.”
He capped his fourth career four-goal game late in the second period when the rebound of his shot deflected in off a Montreal player’s stick.
Ovechkin’s linemates — Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jakub Vrana — contributed four assists and one assist, respectively.
“When your line’s feeling it, you just want to be out there more and more. Sometimes you play well but you don’t score,” Ovechkin said. “Right now it’s we play well, we score goals, we’re dangerous. All three forwards are dangerous and we just have to continue to play like that.”
T.J. Oshie and Nathan Walker — who became the first Australian national to play in an NHL game — added goals for Washington (2-0). Nicklas Backstrom had two assists and Braden Holtby was stellar in goal, stopping 38 of 39 shots.
“That was pretty special. It was a lot of fun,” Walker said. “First couple of shifts I wasn’t quite sure what happened. I was just kind of skating around.”
Brendan Gallagher scored for Montreal (1-1).
“When you spot a team goals early like that it’s pretty hard to come back in this league, so they had a good start and we weren’t ready for it, so that’s on us,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said.
Carey Price stopped 10 of 14 shots in the first period and was lifted in favor of Al Montoya (seven saves) to start the second.
Ovechkin made it 1-0 on an acrobatic goal when he raced to a loose puck in the Montreal zone, spun and fired high over Price’s glove-side shoulder.
Oshie put home the rebound of a Backstrom shot 26 seconds later, and Ovechkin capped the early barrage with a power-play goal from the left circle at the 2:51 mark.
Ovechkin completed the hat trick when he deflected Kuznetsov’s shot past Price.
“We knew what we were coming into,” Gallagher said. “Their first game at home. We knew the type of team we were playing and there’s no excuse for not being ready.”
The Canadiens pulled within 4-1 on Gallagher’s short-handed goal at 4:50 of the second period, but then Ovechkin and Walker scored less than two minutes apart late in the period.
After scoring 16 even-strength goals last season, Ovechkin already has six.
NOTES: Washington LW Nathan Walker became the first Australian-national to play — and score — in the NHL. The Sydney, Australia, native was the first Australian drafted to the NHL when the Capitals selected him in the third round, 89th overall in 2014. ... It is the first time Ovechkin has turned in back-to-back multi-goal games to open a season. ... Montreal D Karl Alzner, in his first game back in Washington after playing nine seasons with the Capitals, was honored with a video tribute and standing ovation. ... Montreal G Carey Price fell to 6-12-4 versus Washington.