– The Associated Press
PITTSBURGH – Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28 shots for his 250th NHL victory and franchise-record 24th shutout, and Sidney Crosby scored in Pittsburgh’s two-goal first period to lead the Penguins to a 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night in the season opener for both teams.
Chuck Kobasew and Craig Adams added goals for the Penguins, who took control early.
Kobasew and Crosby scored less than four minutes apart in the first, and Adams made it 3-0 midway through the third to celebrate his 800th career game in style.
Cory Schneider made 18 saves for the Devils. Schneider’s start marked the first time in 19 years Martin Brodeur didn’t play in the season opener for New Jersey. Brodeur is expected to start Friday at home against the New York Islanders.
Rather than head in a different direction after a disappointing four-game sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference finals last spring, the Penguins fortified the core that has been together for five occasionally brilliant seasons.
Pittsburgh signed stars Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang to long-term extensions, brought back Dupuis, and added two years to Coach Dan Bylsma’s contract.
The only alterations to the roster were minor.
Kobasew wasted little time making an impact, scoring 9:26 into the season when he jammed in Brandon Sutter’s rebound.
Crosby doubled the lead a few minutes later when he and Pascal Dupuis created a two-on-one.
It was all the insurance Fleury would need. The Penguins stuck with the former No. 1 pick following a second straight flameout in the playoffs, believing he and veteran Tomas Vokoun made up the best tandem in the league.
But that duo will be split up for at least three months as Vokoun recovers from blood clots discovered early in training camp.
CAPITALS 5, FLAMES 4: Alex Ovechkin had two goals and an assist, and added a score in the shootout as host Washington rallied from a three-goal deficit to beat Calgary.
Michal Neuvirth, who replaced an ineffective Braden Holtby, made 27 saves, and stopped Sven Baertschi and Jiri Hudler in the shootout.
Marcus Johansson assisted on all three second-period goals for Washington, which earned its first win after dropping the opener to Chicago on Tuesday.
KINGS 3, WILD 2: Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter scored shootout goals for Los Angeles, which rallied to win at Minnesota.
Carter and Drew Doughty scored regulation goals for Los Angeles, which had just 18 shots. Matt Cooke and Jonas Brodin scored in regulation for Minnesota.
PANTHERS 4, STARS 2: Marcel Goc scored two third-period goals, and Florida spoiled Lindy Ruff’s debut as Dallas coach.
The visiting Panthers erased a 2-1 deficit with goals about 4Â½ minutes apart. Goc’s goal followed the tying tally by 18-year-old Aleksander Barkov, the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft.
BLUES 4, PREDATORS 2: David Backes had a goal and assist in the first period to lead host St. LouisÂ over Nashville.
The Blues scored three times in the first 9:45.