WASHINGTON (AP) - Alex Ovechkin beat Martin Brodeur on a penalty shot to complete Washington's four-goal second period, and the Capitals got 31 saves from Michal Neuvirth in a 7-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night.
Ovechkin finished with two goals and an assist. John Carlson had a goal and two assists for Washington, which won its ninth straight home opener - a streak that began with a victory over New Jersey in 2001.
The Capitals scored in a variety of ways: even strength, short-handed, on the power play and with a penalty shot.
Jason Arnott and Henrik Tallinder had goals for the Devils, 0-1-1 under first-year coach John MacLean.
After being held scoreless, New Jersey sharpshooter Ilya Kovalchuk traded punches with Capitals defenseman Mike Green with 4:17 to go. It was the first of several fights in the closing minutes between the teams that had the best records in the Eastern Conference last season.
Before the game, banners marking Washington's accomplishments last season were lowered from the rafters. Although the Capitals won their first Presidents' Trophy (for most points) and third straight Southeast Division championship, a first-round loss to Montreal in the playoffs left them far short of their ultimate goal: the Stanley Cup.
Playing with much the same roster, Washington hopes to get it right this season. The quest began Friday night with a loss in Atlanta, but the Capitals looked much better in this one.
A goal by Tomas Fleischmann at 1:59 of the second period tied it at 2, and Ovechkin gave Washington the lead for good with his first goal of the season, a wrist shot from the left circle at 14:31. Jason Chimera scored at 18:25, a drive that whizzed under Brodeur's right arm, and less than a minute later Ovechkin was awarded a penalty shot after being taken down on a dash to the net.
Ovechkin skated far to his left, moved back toward the middle and lifted a shot past Brodeur from the right side for a 5-2 lead.
Brodeur didn't return for the third period. His replacement, Johan Hedberg, fired an errant clearing pass during a New Jersey power play that was intercepted by Washington's Brooks Laich, who turned the miscue into a short-handed goal.
A power-play goal by Eric Fehr with 8:33 left completed the scoring.
New Jersey took a 1-0 lead at 1:49 of the first period when Arnott, 35, tipped in the rebound of a shot by 35-year-old captain Jamie Langenbrunner. The second assist went to 34-year-old Patrick Elias,
Thirty-five seconds later, the 20-year-old Carlson tied it with a sizzling slap shot from just inside the blue line.
A short-handed goal by Tallinder at 13:44 put the Devils back in front.
NOTES: Play was stopped late in the first period when New Jersey's Anton Volchenkov was struck in the face by a shot off the stick of Nicklas Backstrom. He dropped to his knees while bleeding, and didn't return after being diagnosed with a broken nose. ... Ovechkin has scored at least one goal in his six home openers.
The Associated Press News Service
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