WASHINGTON - Alex Ovechkin has a new gap in his grin. His scoring skills are perfectly intact.
A night after losing a tooth, Ovechkin flicked in the game's first goal for his 200th NHL point, and the Washington Capitals won their home opener 2-0 over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.
The Capitals improved to 2-0-0 for the first time since 2002 - the last time they reached the postseason. Getting to the playoffs is the club's stated aim, following an off-season in which veteran talent was added to a young core built around Ovechkin.
Washington controlled the action for long stretches against Carolina (1-1-1). That included a 14-2 edge in shots in the first period and a 33-23 advantage overall.
When the Hurricanes did create chances, Capitals goalie Olie Kolzig was brilliant in earning the shutout in his first game of the season. He drew chants of "Oh-lee! Oh-lee!" late in the third period after stuffing Ray Whitney's close-range shot off a pass from Erik Cole.
Kolzig has been around long enough to remember when the Capitals reached the playoffs consistently. Washington wants to get back there, of course, and signs on sidewalks around the arena carry the motto, "New Look. New Season. New Attitude." The team's new red home uniforms made their debut Saturday; most in the crowd of 16,741 were wearing that colour, too.
And one of the team's new players, centre Viktor Kozlov, set up Ovechkin's goal 14:24 into the game, drawing three Hurricanes toward him before sliding a no-look pass over to the 2005-06 NHL rookie of the year.
Ovechkin one-timed a shot past goalie John Grahame, lifting the Russian's totals to 99 goals and 101 assists in 165 career games. No Capitals player had arrived at the 200-point plateau so quickly; among all active NHL players, only Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby got there in fewer games (142).
In Washington's 3-1 victory at Atlanta on Friday night, one of Ovechkin's top, middle teeth was broken when he took a stick to the face. After the game, the remaining piece of the tooth was yanked out, and Ovechkin was given 14 stitches.
He seemed to delight in the empty space between his teeth Saturday, sticking his tongue in there and smiling widely whenever he noticed his mug up on the new high-definition video screens above the ice. He resembled a little kid who loses his first incisor and can't wait to see what the Tooth Fairy leaves under the pillow.
"He's likely like about 10-to-15,000 other professional hockey players that are missing a tooth," Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said. "I don't think it's much of a big deal. If you can't play with knocking your teeth out, you better go find another sport."
The Capitals' other goal Saturday came 5:00 into the second period, on defenceman Milan Jurcina's slap shot from the point on a power play. Alexander Semin - who missed Washington's season opener with a right ankle injury - and Nicklas Backstrom were credited with assists.
Notes: Washington won its sixth consecutive home opener. ... The Hurricanes opened a six-game road trip; they don't play at home again until Oct. 22. ... Carolina LW Cory Stillman (torso) was scratched for the third game in a row, D Bret Hedican (illness) for the second in a row. ... Backstrom has an assist in each of his first two NHL games. ... Kolzig's only shutout of 2006-07 came April 3 - in his next-to-last start of the season.