Even with that Stanley Cup you're never going to convince me that Sidney Crosby is better than Alexander Ovechkin. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone better period and that proved to be true Thursday night in Beantown. Brooks Laich got the scoring started for the Caps and along with Ovechkin had two goals of his own in the 4-1 win. Of course defending Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas of the B's didn't get much help as on one goal A.O. waltzed around the 6'3 Milan Lucic for a quick tally. The Caps who went 3-0-1 against the B's last season look primed to contend again, as does an Ovechkin 3-peat for the Hart Trophy.
Meanwhile in another original six city it was a back and forth barn burner for the Leafs and Habs in Toronto. As someone who watched Brian Gionta come up with the Albany River Rats who were then the New Jersey Devils AHL farm club, I still can't get used to seeing him in a Habs sweater. But Gio the Rochester Rocket set the tone early with a PPG. I'm still trying to fathom how the L.A. Kings let go of Mike Cammalleri, who might be one of the best playmaker/setup guys this side of Marc Savard. Matt Stajan picked up a pair of goals for the Leafs who pelted Habs netminder Carey Price. Price turned away 43 of 46 shots on the evening and Montreal won late in OT 4-3 on a Josh Gorges score, assisted on by Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec who also got the helpers on Montreal's first goal by Gionta.
In Colorado where they raised Joe Sakic's # 19 to the rafters, it would also be a special night for Avs coach Joe Sacco. Sacco was an assistant coach for the Albany River Rats under Tom Rowe during the 2006-07 campaign when the Rats were the dual affiliate of the Avs and Canes. One of those former Rats Cody McLeod helped his coach to that first NHL victory by netting the third goal which turned out to be the game winner in a 5-2 triumph over the San Jose Sharks. Former Rat Chris Stewart also assisted on McLeod's goal and Kyle Cumiskey who also starred in Albany saw 12:13 of ice time on the blue line registering a minus one on the night. Patrick Marleau found the back of the net twice for the Sharks, as did the Avs Wojtek Wolski. But in the end it was the Avs holding their ground despite getting outshot in the third period 19-1.
Finally to Calgary where the Flames snapped a league long streak of losing (7) season openers. The Flames jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first, Mark Giordano ended up with a goal and an assist. However the Canucks rallied late in the second down 4-1 as former Detroit Red Wings forward Mikael Samuelsson netted a PPG to cut the deficit in half. Vancouver carried over that momentum over to the third with a quick tally by Alex Burrows from former Albany River Rats defenseman Willie Mitchell, bringing the Canucks within one. But Dion Phaneuf hit the empty net off a pass from Jarome Iginla and Calgary held on for the 5-3 win.
Nightly notable: Every team that outshot their opponent Thursday night ended up losing.
Get ready for the rest of the league to fire it up boys and girls.
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