By STEPHEN WHYNO, AP Hockey Author
WASHINGTON (AP) — Alex Ovechkin moved a few steps nearer to Wayne Gretzky’s targets file, Hendrix Lapierre scored the primary of his NHL profession and the Washington Capitals made their season opener an awesome one for scoring as a substitute of preventing.
The fisticuffs by no means materialized towards the division-rival New York Rangers, and the Capitals made their 5-1 victory Wednesday night time memorable for Ovechkin passing Marcel Dionne for fifth on the profession targets record and Lapierre scoring in his debut with Gretzky offering the soundtrack.
Ovechkin after scoring his 731st and 732nd targets returned to the chorus of “sport by sport, day-to-day” in pursuit of Gretzky’s mark was extra enthused about Lapierre getting No. 1 at age 19.
“I advised him earlier than, ‘Simply shoot the puck,'” Ovechkin stated. “He’s a proficient child, enjoyable to look at and clearly I hope he’s gonna have an awesome future.”
Ovechkin wants 163 targets to move Gretzky, who was concerned from afar in Lapierre’s emotional second, speaking about his relationship with the Russian famous person on nationwide tv whereas the rookie put the puck into the web and went sliding into the boards. Lapierre was all smiles after his dad and mom, grandparents, brother, sister and girlfriend witnessed his NHL debut as a part of a sellout crowd and can all the time have the “Nice One” on the spotlight reel of his first aim.
“For a primary sport, I do not suppose I may have requested for a greater one,” Lapierre stated.
The hype stepping into was extra concerning the aftermath of incidents between these groups final season and the modifications the Rangers revamped the summer time to get greater and harder. They debuted a new-look lineup that includes gritty forwards Barclay Goodrow and Sammy Blais, enforcer Ryan Reaves and large defensemen Patrik Nemeth and Jarred Tinordi, however the closest factor to a struggle was a pair of roughing penalties within the first interval.
Penalties — 9 of them — derailed the Rangers all night time.
“Particularly towards a staff like Washington you don’t need to take too many penalties,” heart Mika Zibanejad stated. “That’s one thing now we have to get higher at sooner or later and take into consideration however with out taking something away from our aggressiveness and enjoying exhausting.”
Washington targets adopted a couple of of these penalties. After T.J. Oshie opened the scoring on the facility play within the first, Justin Schultz added a power-play aim within the second and Lapierre scored 24 seconds in a while a two-on-one rush.
Ovechkin added one other on the facility play from his trademark spot within the faceoff circle to make it 4-0. Chris Kreider scored on the facility play for New York halfway by way of the third interval, however that was the one aim Vitek Vanecek gave up on 24 pictures towards.
And Ovechkin wasn’t carried out. He scored a short-handed aim — simply the fifth of his profession — to place the sport out of attain.
Ovechkin joked afterward he all the time tells assistant coach Scott Arniel he is able to play on the penalty kill. The Capitals will move on that, and let Ovechkin preserve scoring targets for the remainder of his new, five-year contract.
Alexandar Georgiev allowed 5 targets on 27 Capitals pictures, getting the nod within the first half of a back-to-back with common starter Igor Shesterkin anticipated to be in internet for the Rangers house opener.
“A number of breakdowns and odd-man rushes,” reigning Norris Trophy successful defenseman Adam Fox stated. “Simply tighten up. We don’t have an excessive amount of time to dwell on it.”
Commissioner Gary Bettman, Deputy Commissioner Invoice Daly and senior vp of participant security George Parros have been all in attendance for the primary Rangers-Capitals assembly since a sport final season included six fights within the first 5 minutes.
Blais and Washington defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk obtained into it lower than two minutes in, however officers stepped in between them and different potential combatants earlier than anybody may drop the gloves.
It was clear the message had gotten by way of to play hockey and never flip the night time right into a boxing occasion.
“Our gamers and our coaches and our managers are professionals,” Bettman stated beforehand. “They know what’s anticipated of them, and we predict it could be finest if everyone centered on being on the suitable aspect of the road versus the fallacious aspect of the road.”
Washington’s Peter Laviolette earned his 674th NHL win, passing John Tortorella for the file amongst American-born coaches.
“I’ve simply labored with actually good folks,” Laviolette stated. “It’s not one man successful. it’s a staff that’s successful, and so I take into consideration that and I take into consideration all of the those who I’ve linked with all through my teaching profession and I’m grateful greater than the rest.
Rangers: Host the Dallas Stars on Thursday of their house opener at Madison Sq. Backyard.
Capitals: Host the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night time.
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