Capitals at MCI
The Capitals open the season at MCI Center on Wednesday.
Jonathan Newton - The Washington Post
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Ovechkin Starts Off With a Bang

Jeff Halpern, left, Petr Sykora celebrate with Dainius Zubrus after Zubrus scored to give Caps a 3-2 lead in 2nd period.
Jeff Halpern, left, Petr Sykora celebrate with Dainius Zubrus after Zubrus scored to give Caps a 3-2 lead in 2nd period. (By Jonathan Newton -- The Washington Post)

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His opening-shift smash came about 20 seconds into the game and sent Blue Jackets defenseman Radoslav Suchy hurtling into the boards behind the Columbus goal. The metal divider went tumbling.

Ovechkin's hit inspired the crowd, and Kolzig kept the game scoreless into the second period. But Kolzig's shutout didn't last.

Center Dan Fritsche scored the first of his two goals at 6 minutes 53 seconds of the second to put the Blue Jackets ahead 1-0. Fritsche skated in after receiving a long flip pass from Gilbert Brule. The play would have been whistled dead in previous seasons because the pass crossed two lines. But such passes are permitted now as part of a package of rule changes aimed at increasing scoring.

Ovechkin tied the game at 1 seconds later with his first regular season NHL goal. Fritsche's second tally came midway through the second period and restored the Blue Jackets' lead, 2-1.

But less than two minutes later, Ovechkin tied the game with a power-play goal. It came on another one-timer, but on this one the rookie left winger fired from the slot after Halpern put the puck onto Ovechkin's stick blade with an excellent pass.

"Alexander puts a lot of pressure on himself to play like that," Capitals Coach Glen Hanlon said.

Zubrus gave the Capitals their first lead, 3-2, with 3:09 remaining in the second period when he ripped a shot from point-blank range. Halpern set up that goal, too.

In the third period, Kolzig fended off two power plays in the final 5:32. The first penalty was on Ovechkin, who, after being thwarted on a breakaway, was whistled for hooking.

He almost made up for his miscue as he left the penalty box. He received a long pass and skated in alone, but the bouncing puck skipped off his stick before he could line up a shot.

"I've said all along, if you just give Olie the slightest chance to win a hockey game," Hanlon said, "he'll bring it home every single time."

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