The Washington Capitals took to the ice on Sunday night to wrap up their season series with the Calgary Flames. The Capitals fell behind early, but they came back on a career night by Jakub Vrana and won the season series against the Flames with a 4-2 win.
Calgary, at the end of a long road trip, opened the scoring in the sixth minute of the period when Andrew Mangiapane took a feed from Matthew Tkachuk and skated through the low slot, wrapping the puck around the right pad of goalie Ilya Samsonov to give the Flames a 1-0 lead, 5:40 into the period.
Washington tied it when Evgeny Kuznetsov picked up a loose puck along the wall in front of the players’ benches and led a 2-on-1 with Jakub Vrana. Kuznetsov put the puck into space to allow Vrana to collect it, and Vrana did the rest, beating goalie Cam Talbot cleanly over his blocker to make it 1-1 at the 11:01 mark.
Vrana got his second of the game four minutes later. The Caps executed some deft passing in deep, Dmitry Orlov feeding Kuznetsov, who dropped the puck to Vrana at the edge of the left wing circle for a snap shot that beat Talbot 15:08 into the period to make it 2-1, Caps.
Calgary scored with 1.6 seconds left on a pinballing puck that Elias Lindholm deflected out of mid-air from between the hashmarks past goalie Ilya Samsonov to send the teams to their respective locker rooms tied at 2-2.
-- Washington out-shot the Flames, 10-8, but Calgary had the edge in shot attempts, 24-18.
-- The Caps were weak in the faceoff circle, winning only six of 18 draws.
-- Jakub Vrana led the team in shots (three) and attempts (four).
-- The Caps had a 15-5 edge in credited hits, Tom Wilson leading the team with four.
-- Jonas Siegenthaler had three blocked shots to lead all players for both teams.
The teams were relatively quiet for the first nine minutes until Alex Ovechkin had a chance on a breakaway, but his attempt to sneak the puck under Talbot’s pads was foiled by the Calgary netminder.
It took almost half the game to go by, but the teams took their first penalties of the evening when Siegenthaler and Mangiapane were sent off for coincidental roughing calls at the 9:43 mark.
Vrana put the Caps in front with his third goal of the game, taking advantage of a Calgary turnover from inside the Flames’ blue line to head off on a breakaway. In behind the Calgary defense after collecting the puck in the neutral zone, Vrana’s first shot was stopped by Talbot, but the rebound lay in front in the blue paint, and Vrana followed up smartly before Talbot could reset, and the Caps were up, 3-2, 15:05 into the period. That goal would open and close the scoring for the period
-- The Caps had a narrow 13-11 edge in shots on goal for the period, but Calgary had a 20-19 advantage in shot attempts.
-- Jakub Vrana led the team through two periods in shots on goal (five) and shot attempts (seven).
-- Tom Wilson was credited with five hits through 40 minutes; three other Caps had four. Washington had a 25-12 edge in this category.
The Caps got a power play chance in the first minute of the period when Mikael Backlund took a tripping call. Washington converted the chance when Tom Wilson stepped out from the corner to Talbot’s right and fed the puck across the slot to Lars Eller all alone in the right wing circle. Eller had time and space to make a play, and he chose snapping a shot over Talbot’s glove to make it 4-2, 2:20 into the period.
Calgary had a chance shortly thereafter when a shot rang the post to Samsonov’s right. Samsonov spun all the way around to deny Mark Jankowski on a follow up shot from in close to keep the margin at two goals.
The Flames got their first power play of the evening 7:39 into the period when Evgeny Kuznetsov was called for tripping. The Caps killed off the penalty with two shots on goal allowed.
Washington went to the man advantage when Alan Quine was sent off for interference at the 15:32 mark. The Caps had excellent zone time, controlling the puck in the Calgary zone for the first 80 seconds of the power play, but they could not convert either of the two shots they managed on Talbot.
Calgary emptied their net as the clock ticked past two minutes remaining, and then they got an additional man advantage when Dmitry Orlov was sent to the box for delay of game, clearing the puck over the glass in the defensive zone. The Flames could not convert on the 6-on-4 advantage, though, and the Caps skated off with a 4-2 win.
-- The Caps scored in the second period again. That makes them 16-for-16 in second periods this season in having at least one goal scored.
-- Jakub Vrana’s three goals was his first career hat trick. He is the 45th player in Caps history to record at least one hat trick.
-- Evgeny Kuznetsov had three assists, the 44th multi-assist game of his career, tying Sergei Gonchar for 17th all time for the Capitals.
-- The win made it four in a row for the Caps, their second four-win streak this season. It was their ninth consecutive game earning points (8-0-1).
-- The win was the Caps’ fourth in a row on home ice after opening the season with three losses (0-1-2).
-- Washington finished the game with a 32-27 edge in shots, but Calgary had a 58-52 advantage in shot attempts.
-- The Caps’ top line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and T.J. Oshie was minus-2 across the board.
-- Tom Wilson had his tenth career two-assist game. It was his 24th career multi-point game.
-- John Carlson led the club with six shots on goal, but he went without a point for a second straight game, the first time this season he went consecutive games without a point.
-- Ilya Samsonov got the win, stopping 25 of 27 shots. He is now five-for-five in winning starts this season.
In the end…
Good win. Solid Win. The Caps were sound in all three zones for the most part, keeping the Flames from establishing any momentum and rarely allowing them to apply pressure. Calgary looked like a team at the end of a five-game road trip, but the Caps knocked off a club that won their last two games of that trip coming into this one. Still, the Caps did what they had to in taking advantage of a team playing the back half of back-to-back games. That is what successful teams do, and the Caps certainly can lay claim to being one at the moment.