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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Nathan Walker makes history as first Australian to play and score in NHL as Washington Capitals thrash Montreal Canadiens

Comfortable night for the Capitals as Alex Ovechkin scores his second successive hat-trick.

Nathan Walker (79) celebrates with his Washington Capitals teammates on the bench after scoring his first NHL goal during the second period against the Montreal Canadiens. Amber Searls / USA Today Sports
Nathan Walker (79) celebrates with his Washington Capitals teammates on the bench after scoring his first NHL goal during the second period against the Montreal Canadiens. Amber Searls / USA Today Sports

Nathan Walker made history Saturday, as the first Australian to play in the NHL, and scoring a goal to boot in the Washington Capitals' 6-1 demolition of the Montreal Canadiens.

On a night when celebrated Russian teammate Alex Ovechkin notched his second hat-trick in as many games, the 23-year-old Walker netted the Capitals' sixth goal of the night.

The goal was originally credited to Devante Smith-Pelly before officials reviewed it and awarded it to Walker.

"At first, I wasn't sure if it was a stick or the puck," Walker said of feeling the puck that deflected off his left leg.

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Smith-Pelly, who realised the shot deflected off of Walker, asked for the puck as a memento for the Aussie.

When the scoring change was announced, Walker's mother Ceri frantically waved an Australian flag as Ovechkin skated over to the bench to tap Walker's helmet.

"It's incredible," Walker said. "A really special moment."

Walker's youthful ice hockey dreams were fueled by movies such as "The Mighty Ducks" and "Mystery, Alaska."

He left Australia to hone his hockey skills in the Czech Republic, and in 2014 became the first Australian drafted by an NHL team.

Since then, he had been playing for the Capitals' minor league affiliate in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

The Capitals celebrated his NHL debut with a video featuring congratulatory snippets from fellow Australians who have broken into US pro sports leagues.

NBA players Andrew Bogut, Matthew Dellavedova, Thon Maker and Aron Baynes were featured, along with NFL players Adam Gotsis and Sav Rocca.

Fellow sportsmen weren't the only Aussies watching.

"First Aussie, first game, first goal. What a night for @NathanWalks10 Congratulations mate!" tweeted Australia's Ambassador to the United States Joe Hockey.

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