After a tight first period, the Washington Capitals took over with a completely dominant second period which saw them get 20 shots and 2 goals. The Calgary Flames played better in the third but it was not enough and they fell to the Capitals by a score of 4-2.
The Flames were facing a big test against a very good Washington Capitals squad who have been dominant at home this season. Calgary were down a couple of key contributors for this matchup. Matthew Tkachuk was missing his first of two games due to his suspension for his elbow on Drew Doughty. Meanwhile, Micheal Ferland was still out with what may or may not be the mumps. As a result, Curtis Lazar was back in for his second straight appearance, while Freddie Hamilton drew into the line up for the first time in over a month. Brian Elliott was in net once again, with his personal 11 game winning streak on the line.
The Capitals opened the scoring just under 7 minutes in. Johnny Gaudreau tried to be too fancy at centre ice and was stripped by Andre Burakovsky. Burakovsky found Evgeny Kuznetsov alone in on Brian Elliott and he got the puck past Calgary’s goaltender. It was a very unnecessary play by Gaudreau and he got burnt, so the Flames found themselves down 1-0.
However, it would not take long for Gaudreau to atone for his earlier mistake. A nice breakout started by Alex Chiasson sent Johnny Gaudreau in 2-on-2 with Sean Monahan. Gaudreau brought both defenders over to him, which left Monahan completely open for the pass that Gaudreau hit him with. Monahan sniped it past Braden Holtby and the score was tied at one.
The Flames bounced back well after a tough start and the score was tied at 1-1 after the first period of play. Shots were 12-12 in the opening period.
The Capitals almost went up a few minutes into the frame, but Brian Elliott played hero and held the puck off the goal line. Shortly after, Mikael Backlund had a big chance to put the Flames up but he rang one off the crossbar after some nice moves.
The Flames did a tremendous job of being disciplined and avoiding penalties for the first half of the game, but then Michael Stone took a hooking minor. On the penalty-kill, Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik broke free and made an beautiful passing play where Frolik was absolutely robbed by Braden Holtby. That was the best chance of the powerplay, as the Flames held the Caps to just one shot.
Late in the period with the Calgary 4th line stuck out against the Washington 1st line, things did not go well. NIcklas Backstrom made a beautiful cross ice pass to a wide open Alex Ovechkin, who feathered a nice pass to T.J. Oshie in front of Elliott and he tipped it in to make it 2-1 for the Capitals.
Before the period was up, Alex Ovechkin drew a penalty after breaking through Giordano and Hamilton. This powerplay the Capitals poured on the pressure and Kevin Shattenkirk’s shot squeaked through Elliott to make it 3-1 for the Capitals.
It was not a great second for the Flames, as they surrendered 20 shots, as the ice was tilted completely into the Calgary end. Shots in total were 32-18 for Washington after two.
The Flames were more composed in this frame, yielding less opportunities against and generating more for themselves. There were some good efforts but nothing got past Holtby. Until...
Troy Brouwer did a thing! With just under 5 minutes to go, Deryk Engelland jumped up into the rush and hit Brouwer who was in front of the net, with a beautiful pass. Brouwer chipped his 11th of the season past Holtby, his first goal in quite awhile. The Flames were within 1.
The next shift, Mark Giordano found himself alone in front of Holtby but he was denied by the blocker. Unfortunately, Giordano shot the puck over the glass on that same shift and the Capitals were sent on a late game powerplay. Ovechkin did what he does and scored to put the Capitals back up by 2.
The Flames fell for just the second time in the last thirteen games, by a score of 4-2. Final shot count was 41-30 for Washington.
Flames 3 Stars
- Brian Elliott: Yeah, he gave up 4 goals but he made a number of terrific saves on the 41 shots he faced and you cannot fault him for the loss at all. His personal 11 game streak of wins is over but there is no reason to think he will not be maintaining his strong play down the stretch.
- Sam Bennett: Bennett had a terrific game on a line with Backlund and Frolik. He did not score but he had multiple chances and led the Flames in CF% at 5-on-5 with a 66.7% CF.
- Johnny Gaudreau: Had a brutal mistake early but atoned with a nice assist and was a threat for most of the game. He is rolling along nicely.
- The Capitals have a very impressive array of forward talent. Many different threats to overwhelm the opposition. It worked tonight.
- Alex Chiasson has played very well these past 2 games with Gaudreau and Monahan. Simple game, good hustle. Assists in both games.
- Monahan’s goal was his 24th of the year and 50th point, which is very impressive considering how rough of a start he had to his season. He is a good player.
- The Bartkowski-Engelland pairing is scary bad. Overall, I am okay with Engelland as the sixth defenseman for the duration of this year, but someone else needs to be brought in to help drive possession more favourably. Rasmus Andersson is still with the club, while Tyler Wotherspoon and Brett Kulak are viable call up options.
- The 4th line of Lance Bouma, Curtis Lazar and Freddie Hamilton had a rough game as well, all posting CF% below 30% and they were on the ice for a goal against.
- I have to say though, it is pretty cool that the Calgary Flames can go into Washington now and fans can believe they have a reasonable shot at winning. That has not happened for a long time.
The Flames are going to be back in the Western Conference, this time facing the Nashville Predators. Last matchup with them was one of the most exciting games of the year, how will this next one go?