NEW YORK – The 2013-14 National Hockey League season got underway Tuesday night with three games. The Maple Leafs, Blackhawks and Jets all skated off with wins. The Blackhawks hosted a thrilling Stanley Cup-banner raising event that sent the fans singing and cheering. The Hawks then went out and overcame and outscored the Capitals in 6-4 triumph.
Toronto 4, Montreal 3
Chicago 6, Washington 4
Winnipeg 5, Edmonton 4
JOHNNY ON THE SPOT
Celebrating his 32nd birthday, Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya scored the tiebreaking goal with 6:07 remaining in the third period to lift the defending champions to a 6-4 victory over the Capitals. Oduya had recorded only one game-winner in his last 296 regular-season games entering Tuesday.
THE CHAMPS PREVAIL
With Chicago’s victory, the reigning Stanley Cup champion improved to 51-21-14 in its season opener since 1927-28. However, it marked only the second such victory by the defending champion in the last eight seasons (2-4-2); the Penguins recorded the only other win by defeating the Rangers to start their 2009-10 campaign.
* The Maple Leafs (5-0-2) have recorded at least one point in their last seven season openers, the longest active streak in the League. The longest all-time point streak in season openers is 17, set by the Canadiens from 1963-64 through 1979-80 (13-0-4).
* The Maple Leafs also have won four consecutive season openers, marking only the second time they have done so in franchise history (1961-62 through 1964-65).
The Canadiens and Maple Leafs now have met in five straight season openers. In NHL history, there only have been two other instances when the same teams faced off in five or more consecutive openers: the Canadiens and Blackhawks matched up in six straight openers (1949-50 through 1954-55), while the Maple Leafs and Rangers met in five consecutive openers (1940-41 through 1944-45).
* Mikhail Grabovski, who signed a one-year contract with the Capitals this offseason, became the first player in 21 years to debut with his new team and score a hat trick in its season opener. The last to do so was Chris Kontos, who scored four goals for the Lightning in his team debut on Oct. 7, 1992.
* Grabovski (3-1—4) also set a Capitals record for goals and points by a player in his first game with the club and for any Capitals player, debutant or not, in a season-opening game.
* Only three other active players have recorded hat tricks in their team’s season opener: Teemu Selanne (Winnipeg, 1993), Paul Stastny (Colorado, 2007) and Derek Stepan (NY Rangers, 2010).
Capitals defenseman Connor Carrick, a native of Orland Park, Ill., a southwestern suburb of Chicago, made his NHL debut Tuesday at United Center. The 19-year-old blueliner, who was drafted 137th overall in 2012, logged 10:46 of ice-time and recorded two penalty minutes.
Connor Carrick (@connorcarrick)
My first NHL game tonight will be played against the Chicago Blackhawks. Cant think of a moment or event in my life that tops this #GoCaps
Connor Carrick (@connorcarrick)
Didn’t go the way I wanted tonight, but the experience is somethin I’ll learn from and smile back on. Grateful I’ve had such strong support.
Tyler Bozak scored a shorthanded goal for the Maple Leafs, matching his and the team’s shorthanded goal total from the entire 2012-13 season . . . Lars Eller (2-1—3) became just the third Canadiens player since 2002-03 to record three or more points in the team’s season opener. The others were Saku Koivu (2-1—3) and Chris Higgins (1-2—3), who both did so in the team’s first game of the 2006-07 season . . . Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba, who was drafted ninth overall in 2012, scored the game-tying goal, added an assist and logged a game-high 25:02 in his NHL debut. For his efforts, the 19-year-old blueliner was named first star of the game . . . Dallas Eakins made his NHL coaching debut behind the Oilers’ bench. Eakins, 46, had spent the past eight seasons in the Maple Leafs organization, including the last four as the head coach of the Toronto Marlies (AHL).
HAWKS RAISE BANNER
The Blackhawks added four new banners to the United Center rafters, including one recognizing their fifth Stanley Cup championship in franchise history, prior to their tilt against the Capitals. The ceremony featured speeches from team personnel, a video montage and glowing Xyloband wristbands pre-programmed to flash red and white throughout the presentation.
The Lightning and Sabres introduced new captains on Tuesday. Overall, seven teams have anointed new captains this offseason (ages in parentheses):
Buffalo: Steve Ott (31)/Thomas Vanek (29)
Calgary: Mark Giordano (29)
Dallas: Jamie Benn (24)
Edmonton: Andrew Ference (34)
NY Islanders: John Tavares (23)
Ottawa: Jason Spezza (30)
Tampa Bay: Martin St. Louis (38)
* Columbus is the only team that has not named a captain.
MOLSON CANADIAN NHL FACE-OFF
More than 40,000 fans attended the 2013 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off at Place des Festivals in Montreal on Tuesday. The hockey, entertainment and community festival was headlined by Grammy Award-winning band Kings of Leon and also included musical performances by Loco Locass and The Beaches.
SNEAK PEEK AT WEDNESDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
Toronto @ Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m., TSN, CSN-PH
Buffalo @ Detroit, 8:00 p.m., NBCSN, TSN2
Anaheim @ Colorado, 9:30 p.m., RDS2, PRIME, ALT
NBCSN launches its “Wednesday Night Rivalry” broadcasts with a battle between new Atlantic Division foes, the Red Wings and Sabres. The clubs haven’t competed in the same division since 1973-74, when they were both in the East. Wednesday marks the 117th all-time regular-season meeting between the teams – the Sabres hold a 122-114 point advantage in their matchups, but the Red Wings are 8-1-1 in their last 10 meetings (BUF: 2-6-2).
All-Time Record in Season Openers
Buffalo: 24-14-4 (7-8-0 on the road)
Detroit: 37-35-14 (28-16-6 at home)
With NHL Press Release