- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 4, 2009

Well, the opening night performance in Boston by the Washington Capitals certainly wasn’t a fluke.

The high-flying Caps feted their 2008-09 division title Saturday night at Verizon Center, then proceeded to steamroll a second straight opponent in a 6-4 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin had three points each to lead the offensive barrage. Nicklas Backstrom added two assists, and both Brooks Laich and Brendan Morrison had multipoint efforts.

“Pretty impressive,” Morrison said. “Very impressive - a lot of skill. It is a great first two games for us, but we’re a little upset with how we finished it off there.”

Semyon Varlamov was great in the first two periods before yielding three goals in the final period after his team had crafted a 6-1 advantage. He stopped 27 of 31 shots to improve his career regular-season record to 5-0-1.

Jumping out to big leads before letting off the gas pedal was an issue last season.

“It was something that we talked about when [last] season was over,” Laich said. “To take the next step and be one of the best teams in the league, when they get a lead on teams they put them away and they don’t give them any life and frustrate them. We didn’t do that tonight.”

The players and coach Bruce Boudreau may have been upset with the third-period letdown, but the Caps did a great job of shutting down Boston after taking a 4-1 lead, and a five-goal lead is different from a three-tally advantage.

Ovechkin scored on his first shot in a red uniform this season to put Washington in front. He collected a cross-ice pass near the left wall from Nicklas Backstrom and cut across the ice before unleashing a shot past Toronto defenseman Luke Schenn 1:17 into the contest for his third marker in two games.

Mike Knuble collected his first goal with the Caps at 9:12. With Washington on the power play, Chris Clark tipped Ovechkin’s blast from the left point, and then Knuble scooped the rebound past Toronto goalie Vesa Toskala.

Laich tied Ovechkin for the league lead in goals at 13:53 of the opening period. He leaked out of Washington’s zone and corralled a pass from Milan Jurcina behind the Maple Leafs’ defense. Laich deked to his forehand and flicked a shot past Toskala on the ensuing breakaway to give the Caps three goals on their first seven shots.

“[Ovechkin’s] a tough guy to keep up with,” Laich said. “They’re going in right now, and it is great. Hopefully, it keeps going.”

Former Caps coach Ron Wilson switched goaltenders after the first intermission, but the onslaught continued with rookie Jonas Gustavsson in net. Semin tried to jam the puck past the 6-foot-3 netminder earn the left post, but when that didn’t work he roofed a second chance just under the crossbar at 5:27.

Knuble’s former teammate at Michigan, Morrison also scored his first goal with the Caps to make it 5-1. Mike Green lofted a homerun pass from the Washington blue line, and Morrison outraced the Maple Leafs defenders to the puck and then backhanded a shot over Gustavsson’s glove.

Semin added his second of the night on a lucky break. He held the puck too long as he careened toward the net, but it hit off defenseman Francois Beauchemin’s skate and trickled into the net at 16:02.

“I think [the offense] is going on all cylinders,” Boudreau said. “They’re moving the puck well, and more importantly they’re skating. Those [top] two lines are playing really well.”

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