OTTAWA — The Ottawa Senators learned the hard way that Alex Ovechkin is as good as ever.
Ovechkin scored a hat trick Thursday night as his Washington Capitals beat the Ottawa Senators 5-4 in a shootout to open their respective seasons.
"You give star players like that time and space, and especially Ovechkin with that shot, he's going to score," said Mark Stone, who had two goals for Ottawa.
The Senators felt they played well enough, but admitted a few breakdowns was the difference.
"In the end it's three turnovers that cost us the game," said Ottawa coach Guy Boucher. "The three last goals we've got the puck and we basically give it back to them and they took advantage of it.
"Obviously when you've got a guy like Ovechkin on the other side taking advantage of it, it's bound to hurt you."
Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the shootout winner and had three assists for the Capitals (1-0-0). Brett Connolly also scored for Washington, while Braden Holtby made 28 saves.
Derick Brassard, who missed all of the pre-season due to injury, had a goal and two assists. Chris Wideman also scored and Craig Anderson stopped 24 shots.
The Senators had an opportunity to win the game in overtime with a power play, but Holtby came up with a big shoulder save on Brassard.
"When you have a chance like that it's supposed to be in the back of the net," said Brassard. "We're supposed to win this game and we have to find a way and the next time it happens that we have a plan, and we did have a plan, but we have to execute and make sure it's in the net."
The third period featured an onslaught of goals after a quiet 40 minutes.
Leading 2-1 to start the third, the Senators took a two-goal lead after Bobby Ryan stripped the puck off Dmitry Orlov. Ryan fanned on a shot, but regained control of the puck and fed Brassard waiting out front.
The Capitals then went on to score twice in a span of 1:23 to tie the game 3-3.
Cody Ceci turned the puck over down low which allow Kuznetsov to find Ovechkin who roofed it. Shortly after, the Senators were unable to clear the puck and the same line was able to move the puck quickly to allow Ovechkin to score his second of the night.
"We needed someone to pick us up and that line picked us up," said Capitals coach Barry Trotz.
The Senators regained the lead 1:17 later as Stone, with his second of the night, tipped Dion Phaneuf's shot to make it 4-3. Not to be outdone, Ovechkin tied things back up to complete the hat trick.
Ottawa regained the lead six minutes into the second as Brassard showed great patience and held on to the puck long enough to find Stone who rifled it past Holtby. Brassard, Stone and Ryan combined for seven points.
The Senators opened the scoring six minutes into the first as Wideman's sharp angle shot fooled Holtby.
Matt Niskanen knocked the puck down to keep it at the point less than two minutes later and Connolly was able to beat Anderson with a bullet.
Senators captain Erik Karlsson didn't play Thursday's opener, but there is a chance he could return for Saturday's game against the Detroit Red Wings.
Ottawa defenceman Johnny Oduya didn't play the third period after leaving with a lower-body injury. The Senators had no update on Oduya, but don't expect it to be serious and said they could end up needing to recall someone for Saturday.
Notes: Prior to the game, the Senators held a moment of silence for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting earlier this week and for former Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray, who died in August. Murray started his NHL coaching career with the Capitals.