The eagerly awaited NHL season commenced on Wednesday night with five opening night games.
The current Stanley Cup holders Washington Capitals welcomed the visiting Boston Bruins to Capital Arena and duly dispatched the Bruins 7-0.
Evgeny Kuznetsov opened his campaign with a brace of power play goals, alongside markers from T.J Oshie, Alex Ovechkin. Home netminder Braden Holtby made 25 saves for the Caps, with visiting netminder Tuuka Rask allowing five goals on just 19 shots. The Bruins really must hate playing the Capitals, with a current unwanted record of 13 straight losses against the defending Champions.
Oshie opened the scoring with just 24 seconds into the game, with an assist from Nicklas Backstrom – his 800th career point – from which point the Capitals totally dominated the game to send out an early season message to the rest of the league. The Caps want to hold on to their crown and won’t let go of it lightly.
In the season opener in Scotiabank Arena Toronto, the visiting Montreal Canadiens grabbed a 3-2 victory, after Auston Matthews scored his second goal of the game after 61 seconds of overtime to claim the two points. John Tavares, who recently signed a seven-year $77 million contract with the Leafs as an unrestricted free agent, scored on his Toronto debut, with Frederik Andersen making 34 saves for Toronto.
Also in Canada, in Vancouver at the Rogers Arena, Elias Pettersson had a goal and an assist in his NHL debut as the Canucks defeated the Calgary Flames 5-2. The 19-year-old centre led the Swedish Hockey League in scoring points with 56 in 44 games and had the honour of being named MVP in the regular season.
Nickolay Goldobin, Brendan Leipsic, Jake Virtanen and Tyler Motte also netted, with Jacob Markstrom making 33 saves for the Canucks, who won their fifth straight season opener.
The final game of the night saw the Anaheim Mighty Ducks travel to San Jose to face the Sharks.
The honours went to the visiting Ducks who came away with a 5-2 victory. Netminder John Gibson was in outstanding form, making 31 saves at SAP Centre. It was also a night to remember for rookie forward Max Comtois, who scored on a breakaway 49 seconds into the game to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead. It was the sixth fastest goal by a player making his NHL debut.
Forwards Sam Steele and Kiefer Sherwood each made their NHL debuts for Anaheim, who were without injured forwards Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler, Patrick Eaves and Ondrej Kase. It mattered little as the Ducks ran out winners to end a thoroughly enjoyable round of opening night games.