It was the second game of the Caps’ five-game road trip, while the Flames were returning home after splitting two decisions on the road. In what was at times an ugly back-and-forth game, the Caps put enough moments together to hold off the Flames, 5-3, to make it four wins in a row.
The teams went through a lengthy feeling out period over the first six minutes of the contest, but the Caps got the first advantage when Mark Giordano was sent off 6:34 into the period for slashing Alex Ovechkin. The Caps failed to convert on either of their two shots on goalie Cam Talbot.
The Caps went a man short just past the mid-way point of the period when Nic Dowd was whistled for holding. The Caps successfully killed off the penalty, Calgary failing to make good on any of their three power play shots on goal. The teams, having failed in their respective lone power play chances, did not dent the net at evens, and the teams went off scoreless after 20 minutes.
-- Calgary picked up the shooting pace over the last ten minutes, but they were not a collection of threatening shots, for the most part. The Flames out-shot the Caps, 15-9, and out-attempted them, 23-17, in the first period.
-- Lars Eller, Renaissance Man… Two shots on goal (led team), one takeaway, seven for eight on faceoffs, and 1:17 in penalty killing ice time (led all Caps).
-- The fourth line got fifth line ice time… Chandler Stephenson had 1:54, Nic Dowd had 2:07, and Brendan Leipsic had 1:13 (only two shifts).
-- Four score… Caps had four shot attempts blocked, four missed shots, four giveaways, four takeaways, and four blocked shots.
John Carlson struck for the Caps in the first minute of the period, taking a puck off the right wing wall and proving the maxim, “there are no bad shots,” flinging the puck at the net and past Talbot just inside the near post to make it 1-0, Caps, 35 seconds into the frame.
Chandler Stephenson doubled the Caps’ lead with an unassisted goal 2:41 into the period, banking a shot from below the goal line off defenseman Rasmus Andersson.
Alex Ovechkin got tangled up with Sean Monahan off the ensuring faceoff and was sent off for interference. Elias Lindholm made the Caps pay with a rocket form the right wing circle over the glove of goalie Braden Holtby off a feed from Johnny Gaudreau 3:19 into the period.
The Caps had a chance to regain the two-goal lead with a power play of their own, Derek Ryan sent off on an interference call 5:15 into the period, but the Caps were unable to convert.
Calgary got their third man advantage of the evening in the 15th minute when T.J. Oshie was sent to the penalty box for slashing. The Flames did not score on the power play, but they did tie the game shortly thereafter off a goal mouth scramble, Austin Czarnik batting a loose puck in from Holtby’s left at the 16:25 mark.
Washington regained the lead on the next shift. Nicklas Backstrom led a 2-on-1 into the Calgary end and backhanded a pass across to Ovechkin for a one-timer that beat Talbot on the blocker side, ten seconds after the Flames tied the game. That would end the scoring for the second period, the Caps up, 3-2.
-- Calgary out-shot the Caps, 10-8, for the period, but the teams were 18 apiece in shot attempts in the middle frame.
-- Alex Ovechkin led the team with four shots and seven shot attempts through two periods.
-- Lars Eller was 9-for-12 in faceoffs through two periods, the rest of the Caps were just 12-for-30.
-- Not a big hitting game, with the Caps credited with 11 hits and Calgary with seven through two periods. Garnet Hathaway led the Caps with three.
-- T.J. Oshie was not credited with a single shot attempt through 40 minutes.
Neither team could muster much in the way of chances over the first eight minutes, but the Caps got a power play chance when the “T.J.’s” tangled up in center ice, T.J. Brodie going off for interfering with T.J. Oshie. The Caps had decent zone time but could not solve Talbot in the two-minute man advantage.
The Caps did extend their lead in the 13th minute, Lars Eller leading a three-man wave into the Calgary zone and finding the trailing skater, Tom Wilson, who snapped a shot past Talbot’s glove to make it 4-2, 12:34 into the period.
John Carlson added an empty net goal at the 18:15 mark, and Tobias Rieder scored for Calgary with 15.2 seconds left to complete the scoring in the Caps’ 5-3 win.
-- With a goal and an assist, Alex Ovechkin recorded his 346th career multi-point game (26th all time).
-- Braden Holtby stopped 32 of 35 shots. Since allowing three goals on three shots and being pulled against Colorado, he has stopped 73 of 79 shots (.924) and has two wins.
-- John Carlson’s goal extended his points streak to eight games, a career high. His second goal made it four career two-goal games, tied for sixth in franchise history among defensemen with Al Iafrate and Calle Johansson.
-- The win was the Caps’ fifth in six road games to start the season, the first time they accomplished that feat in team history.
-- T.J. Oshie finished the game without a shot attempt.
-- The Caps gave up four power plays to the Flames, the eighth time in their last nine games that they faced four or more shorthanded situations. The Caps are 31-for-36 killing penalties in that span (86.1 percent).
-- Calgary out-shot the Caps, 35-30, and out-attempted them, 58-55.
-- With an assist, his 649th career assist, Nicklas Backstrom broke a tie with Daniel Sedin .for fifth place all-time among players born in Sweden.
-- The Caps made the big Calgary guns play defense and made them pay for doing so. Mark Giordano, Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Elias Lindholm all finished minus-3 for the Flames.
-- Nicklas Backstrom and Lars Eller each won ten faceoffs for the Caps. It is the fourth time this season that this duo each won ten or more draws in a game.
In the end…
It was not stylish, but it was pretty. As in “all road wins are pretty.” The Caps extended their lead in the Metropolitan Division to four points and find themselves only one point behind the surprising Buffalo Sabres for the Eastern Conference lead. After the third period meltdown against Nashville almost two weeks ago, the Caps are 5-1-0, with five goals scored in each of their last three games, and but for an awful start against Colorado might be even better. They are setting an early pace that their division rivals will find tough to match.