With both teams coming off lackluster losses, the Capitals found their stride against a disorganized Flames team. After allowing a goal in the game’s first minute and falling behind 2-0 midway through the first period, it was the Young Guns who sparked the rally. The Capitals’ scored 7 unanswered goals, with six coming in the second period.
After reuniting the Young Guns line, Nicklas Backstrom (4 points) struck first for Washington on the man advantage to cut the Flames lead in half before the first intermission, reviving the dormant powerplay (4-for-38 coming into the game, 3-for-4 on the game). Backstrom set up the next goal by Alexander Ovechkin (3 points), a 5-on-3 one-time slap shot. Ovie followed followed that with a 5-on-4 strike just 12 seconds later. Next up was Mike Green (3 points), who midway through the period scored a pretty goal in front of his hometown family and friends. Not to be outdone, Alexander Semin (3 points) potted a goal later in the period.
The Good: The Caps defense and penalty killing. It may seem odd to highlight that part of the game, but the Caps really buttoned up in the last 48 minutes of the game. They were a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill, including an extended 5-on-3 late in the second period when the game was well out of reach that featured several Caps blocking shots. Of course the highlight of the penalty kill was David Steckel earning a penalty shot after being dragged down on a shorthanded breakaway. Steckel calmly roofed his chance over Karlsson. The Capitals didn’t let off the gas pedal late, which they were so prone to doing in the past few seasons, only allowing 13 shots over the final 2 periods. By the way, the Capitals are 5-0 when defensive specialist Boyd Gordon is in the lineup.
The Bad: While not much went wrong for the Caps in this one, the first 12 minutes of the game were dominated by the Flames. Olli Jokinen scored 44 second into the game after being left alone in front of the goal. Caps defenseman Brian Fahey, playing in his second NHL game, was left alone to defend a 2-on-1 at the 11 minute mark and Curtis Glencross made him pay. Michal Neuvirth was excellent throughout the game, but the Caps made his job that much harder early in the game. It wasn’t until Matt Hendricks took one for the team in a fight with Tim Jackman that the Caps really woke up.
The Ugly: The Flames defense. While there were a couple goals that Flames backup netminder Henrik Karlsson could have done something about, most of the Capitals’ goals involved a giveaway or poor defensive zone coverage in front of Flames starter Miikka Kiprusoff. The goal that stood out the most was Matt Bradley‘s goal which came just 13 seconds after Mike Green’s strike. Cory Sarich tried to clear the puck into the corner but put it into his own net instead, nicking Bradley’s stick along the way. On another play late in the game, Tomas Fleischmann had a clear path to the net after two Flames defensemen knocked each other over at the blueline.