Ovechkin makes history as Capitals beat New York Rangers 5-1 in season opener

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Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) celebrates his second goal in the third period in an NHL hockey game against the New York Rangers, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Washington. Ovechkin’s goal gives him 732, and fifth place on the NHL goals list. The Capitals won 5-1. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

In front of a sea of fans, “rocking the red”, the Washington Capitals made a statement with their opening night victory against the New York Rangers, 5-1.

T.J Oshie opened the scoring for the home team, on the first powerplay of the game for Washington, tapping it in against a frozen Rangers defense. Almost five minutes into the game, and a full capacity crowd at Capital One Arena had something to cheer about.

The second period belonged to rookie Hendrix Lapierre, who made his NHL debut for the Capitals. The 19-year old was able to share this moment with his family, and loved ones, who were in attendance.

“Playing with Osh [T.J Oshie] is really easy, he sees the ice really well, and I knew when I called the puck he was going to pass it to me, and I got lucky, and just put the puck at the net.” said Hendrix Lapierre, when asked to describe the goal he scored. “Lot of mixed emotions at the same time for sure, you can’t really think about all of that when you’re on the ice. It was just so fun, the crowd was incredible, and for a first game I couldn’t have asked for a better one, and we got the win too, so it was really good.”

Lapierre went on to say he didn’t have much time to speak with his family, and loved ones before the game, because he was so focused on the game at the time, but joked saying he is sure they will have plenty to talk about when he meets with them.

“I don’t know why I did that.” said T.J Oshie, when asked about his intense celebration for Lapierre’s goal. “I was just super excited for him. Coming into camp here we had a veteran team, and he fought his way into the lineup, and to get the respect of the coaches on night one, and earn the respect of his teammates, his line mates, and just in general just an all-around good kid to be around.”

“I was super excited for him, for his family. A lot goes into – there’s a lot of sacrifices that goes into to get their kid at this level. I saw it first hand, I’m sure the Lapierre’s are no different, and for them to be in the building I’m sure was special, as it was for him. For me to be a part of it, and be out there and support him, I was super, super, super excited.”

Alex Ovechkin made his mark on the night, and the record books; picking up his first goal of the night on the Capitals’ fourth powerplay, and tying for 5th all-time on the most goals scored in NHL history.

That goal would also be marked as Ovechkin’s 270th powerplay goal, putting him five powerplay goals shy of the NHL record. Dave Andreychuk holds the record wtih 274 goals scored.

“I just tried doing my job, and if I have a chance I just have to use it.” said Alex when asked about his 731st, and 732nd goals. “I just enjoy my time. Of course it’s a huge privilege to be on that list, but how it’s said. Game by game, day by day.”

“There was a lot of question marks, there’s still question marks this morning. He jumps into the game, and is a major factor into the game.” said Head Coach Peter Laviolette, when asked about what it was like for him to see Ovechkin’s goal. “I’ve only been here a short time, and it seems like every night we’re acknowledging him for something. He’s passing somebody by, or he is doing something special, and tonight’s a real big accomplishment to jump up the list like that.”

Despite conceding a goal to the Rangers, the Capitals would get one back, short-handed, as Evgeny Kuznetsov set up a clever play for Ovechkin to notch his 2nd of the night, and 732 all-time. That would put him firmly in 5th place all-time for most goals scored in league history.

Head Coach Peter Laviolette would win his 674th game as an NHL Head Coach, passing John Tortorella for the most wins by an American-born head coach in league history.

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