Ohio native Dan Fritsche scored two goals and rookie Gilbert Brule recorded an assist in his NHL debut as the Blue Jackets fell in their season opener, 3-2 at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday night.
The Jackets took the early 1-0 lead on the first of Fritsche’s two goals on the evening. Brule flipped a pass over the head of the Washington defense and Fritsche used his speed to track down the puck and beat Washington goaltender Olaf Kolzig for the early lead.
The Capitals’ Alexander Ovechkin, the No.1 pick from the 2004 draft, knotted the score just 29 seconds later on the first of his two goals on the evening.
The Jackets regained the lead at 10:22 when Luke Richardson put a shot on net that Kolzig deflected toward the goal line to his right. Fritsche corralled the lose puck and made an athletic move to beat Kolzig to his stick side, giving Columbus a 2-1 lead.
But Washington scored two power-play goals to close out the second period and give the Capitals a 3-2 lead at the second intermission that they would not squander.
The Jackets out shot Washington 17-6 in the third, and 37-19 for the game, but were unable to solve Kolzig to tie the game. Pascal Leclaire made 16 saves in taking the loss in his third career NHL start. Washington finished 2-for-8 on the power play, while the Jackets went 0-for-9.
Fritsche, Todd Marchant, Geoff Sanderson and free agent acquisition Bryan Berard paced the Jackets with four shots each.
The Jackets return to action on Friday night, in the team’s home opener, facing the Calgary Flames at 7 p.m.