With a strong victory over the Habs in Montreal, the Flames were looking to... capitalize (I'm not sorry) over a Washington team that is under-performing and looking to rebound after a disappointing 6-5 loss by the Coyotes. The Capitals had lost four straight coming into this and showcased early on how hungry they were to break the losing streak.
Continuing with the trend lately, the talk continued about TJ Brodie and Mark Giordano being an amazing pairing. It's still crazy how the hockey world is finally coming around to this despite it being well known in the Flames fan-base and the Hockey Twitter world. Regardless, we here at Matchsticks and Gasoline welcome all the praise we can take about the Brodidano pairing.
In a shocking (not so shocking when you consider the team is really over-performing past many expectations) turn of events, the Capitals did the opposite of what the Habs did the other night. The furious pace of the young talent on the Capitals roster opened with the first shot of the game on Jonas Hiller. Within the first two minutes of the game, Washington had established strong dominance in the Flames zone generating opportunities and taking advantage of the flat-footed skating.
That being said, it did take the Flames a bit to get their feet moving. Sorry anti-Charlie Simmer crowd, it's an accurate phrase to describe the first period for sure. Wideman had one of the few zone entries in the game early on which lead to Paul Byron getting a great chance in front. Unfortunately Byron couldn't buy a goal if he spent his entire league salary on it. Still, he's been great and a tiny ball of furious hate.
Washington would immediately begin their continued pressure in the offensive zone. Ladislav Smid gave the puck away which lead to a Mike Green scoring chance. The entire team for the eight minutes or so. Finally after a shot from the blueline and a scrum in front, Lance Bouma would put the puck past Braden Holtby to give the Flames the first goal of the game and a 1-0 lead. It was Lance's second goal in as many games and his third of the season.
It would be short lived as Nicklas Backstrom would rip one past Hiller to draw the Capitals even. Backstrom's goal was also his third of the season. The continued control of the game by the youth of Washington would be a consistent theme this game. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky had some pressure in the first period and annoyed the Flames blueline.
The continued flat-footed play lead to Alex Ovechkin getting a great scoring chance after another giveaway. The Flames inability to carry the puck into the offensive zone hindered their play. Johnny Gaudreau who has been a stronger Flames player at carrying the puck in, riddled with the flu wasn't doing his regular magic. The period would end with Washington holding a decimating lead in possession but a marginal shot lead at 13-10.
First period Corsi: 14-26 (35% ES/ALL)
The Flames opened the period with a shot from the point by Giordano and failed to keep strong control in the Capitals zone. Hudler would feed Kris Russell a nice pass for another great shot from the point that was started by a Gaudreau zone entry however Holtby stood firm. Soon after having Smid, Matchsticks and Gasoline whipping boy Brandon Bollig, and enigma Deryk Engelland on the ice at the wrong time; the Caps established crushing zone presence and directed a number of shots toward the net.
About halfway through the second, the Flames would pick up the pace AND GET THEIR FEET MOVING! Unfortunately after an icing by the Capitals, Liam O'Brien and Engelland would fight. It was an even tilt with no clear winner unless you count having Engelland off the ice. The Capitals would yet again continue their relentless assault directing pucks at Hiller. A scrum in front of Hiller would lead to Giordano and Tom Wilson both getting roughing calls leading to some 4 on 4 play.
Shortly after some back and forth play, our captain would dance around Wilson and roof a beautiful backhanded goal past Holtby to give the Flames the lead. Once again, the lead being short lived, Marcus Johansson would blast the puck in and it would bounce weird in behind Hiller and then slightly off Hiller onward into the net. The weird goal would be Johansson's fifth of the season making it a 2-2 game.
The ever continuing and unrelenting play in the Flames' zone would lead to more chances on Hiller. Ovechkin would then take a questionably high hit on Curtis Glencross. Taking objection to no call on the hit, Glencross slamedd Ovi to the ice leading to another scrum and more heated tempers. Glencross would be wrangled into the penalty box for roughing. With that, we had the game's first power play.
Bouma would have a huge blocked shot on the penalty kill but during the penalty kill, Wideman would take a delay of game call. Unfortunately a weird bounce again lead to Joel Ward scoring his sixth of the season. It's also his third goal against the Flames this year too. The Flames would get a scoring chance on the penalty kill thanks to a Jooris pass to Byron in front. Thankfully, we would kill off the penalty. The Caps would take a too-many men call sending the Flames to their first power play. Nothing was generated on it and then Bollig took a dumb hooking call off a faceoff. The period would end with the Flames on the PK again.
Second period Corsi: 10-20 (33.33% ALL) / 8-13 (38.10% ES)
The Flames would the final period on the PK and despite a few chances, they would kill it off. Wideman gave the puckaway again leading to more pains in our own end. The Flames would survive this gaffe which eventually lead to a scoring chance by Bouma. The pace of the third period would open up more and the Flames looked like they had more life. Smid would get tackled by Michael Latta which appeared to have injured him. Moments later, the shot blocking defender would return.
There were more weird bounces in the third as a Glencross pass bounced off Monahan and went on net. Holtby wasn't prepared for that however took care of any garbage in front. Once more, another weird bounce would occur. After what I believe was a Russell pass deep into the Washington zone, Markus Granlund would come up with it and try to pass out front to Gaudreau which then deflected off Troy Brouwer and into the net. The game would be equalized at 3-3 giving the Flames hope.
Jonas Hiller would come up huge twice in the final minutes of the period with two sprawling saves that definitely ensured the Flames would not lose this in regulation. This included one fantastic one-timer with less than a second left on a Tom Wilson one-timer. The period ended signalling at least one more period of hockey.
Third period Corsi: 21-19 (52.5% ALL) / 21-18 (53.85% ES)
Hiller would come up big again with a big stop on Johansson while a potential Calgary 3 on 1 was stopped by a really fantastic Nate Schmidt backcheck for the Capitals. This however wouldn't work out well as a very controlled zone entry by Sean Monahan would lead to a pass from Jooris to Monahan who snuck in close to roof it past Holtby to win it 4-3.
Flame of The Game
Considering the play for the most part for the team this game was bordering on disaster at all times. Along with the dependence of luck bounces / "puck luck", I'd say Jonas Hiller deserves it. He was responsible for keeping the Flames in it despite the bad bounces and he was only really beaten on one legit goal. He had huge saves late in the game and kept his cool. His positioning was great and he has been the driving force behind the Flames performance lately. Hiller faced 34 shots this evening posting a realistic .912 SV% in all situations along with an incredible .931 SV% at even strength.
- Josh Jooris who has been playing lights out the last couple games threw a fantastic hit in the period. He has been making a strong case to stay up this year with his incredible work ethic and play.
- To contrast that, Sven Baertschi continued to not show up in this game. We're rooting for Sven to make an impression and hopefully stay but it seems questionable at this point. He was benched during this game and it looks like we could see his days numbered finally?
- Monahan had the big goal to end the game tonight and was 54% in the faceoffs. Sean has been taking on a larger responsibility with Mikael Backlund and Matt Stajan being injured. He's matured well over the off-season and is stepping up when needed. We know his SH% was bound to regress and he was expected to have a difficult sophomore season but he is holding up well.
- Johnny Hockey only had 11:15 TOI tonight with 0:52 of PP time. With the flu and being a game-time decision (with the potential of facepunching trucusaur Brian McGrattan going in if needed), he did okay. He had some strong zone entries and decent plays. He was largely missing at times but it's to be expected if he is sick.
- Bollig, Smid, and Engelland are a trainwreck. That's it. It's bad when they are on at once.
- Paul Byron has so many chances and can't score. He had three shots this evening and three hits along with 15:38 TOI.
- Hudler's mentorship of the Flames youth is a great thing to watch. He makes them better, he teaches them the game, and he comes through when a mistake is made. Keeping him around through the rebuild is a good idea.
- Observing Washington's youth gets me more excited for the rebuild to continue. Tom Wilson has done a full 360 this season. He's not on the four line like he was last year under Adam Oates and he is a force out there. Kuznetsov is just fantastic to watch along with Burakovsky. Also that Nate Schmidt backcheck was amazing. Give the kid some props for that.