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After kicking off the season with a healthy helping of home cooking, the Caps hit the road for their annual "the horses have taken over our arena" tour of Western Canada. First up? The mighty Flames of Calgary, who have gotten off to a bit of a rough start to the year...and it was about to get rougher.
First up, here's Tuesday night's Plus/Minus:
- Plus: Is there anything better than Alex Ovechkin hitting yet another incredible milestone? Nope. There isn't. Here's to the next 900, Ovi!
- Minus: The first 15 minutes of the game. Overall, the Caps didn't come out of the gate looking all that bad, but a sloppy sequence in front of their own net resulted in the early go-ahead goal by the Flames...which was then followed by back-to-back penalties. Ug-ly.
Ten more notes on the game:
- He may be putting up tons of points, but John Carlson has had some struggles in his own zone to start the season. That was on full display early on in this one, as he took a pass from Brooks Orpik at the side of the net, then promptly made a perfect pass right to the stick of a lurking Johnny Gaudreau. Gaudreau got the puck to Sean Monahan, who fired it past Braden Holtby at close range.
- After the Flames took an early lead, the Caps did exactly what you don't want to do: they took a penalty. And then they took another one. Not a great game plan if you want to take the momentum away from the home team.
- After successfully killing off both minors, and limiting Calgary to a grand total of one power-play shot in that four-minute stretch, the Caps seemed to find their feet. Some penalty-killing time by T.J. Oshie resulted in a temporary promotion for Andre Burakovsky to the top line, where he immediately took advantage of the upgrade - and the ridiculous backwards pass he got from Evgeny Kuznetsov - to tie the game up at one.
- Last game against the 'Canes, Alex Ovechkin picked up his 899th point with a goal in the game's dying minutes. He didn't make us wait long for #900. Just 30 seconds into the second period, there was Ovechkin breaking in on net - and then just floating one behind goaltender Karri Ramo for his fourth of the season and the Caps' first lead of the night.
- Justin Williams has had a slightly quieter debut with the Caps then his fellow newcomer Oshie, but don't mistake quiet for ineffective. He's been doing little things that just haven't worked out for whatever reason - but they worked out tonight, as he sent a gorgeous pass out to Nicklas Backstrom, who was sneaking into the slot. Backstrom, having no one to pass the puck to, had no choice but to fire it - and give the Caps a 3-1 lead.
- Shortly after, the lead got a bit bigger. Because T.J. Oshie was going to muscle his way to the front of the net whether Dougie Hamilton wanted him to or not - and once he was there, all it took was a perfectly-placed pass from Kuznetsov for an easy tap-in.
- Seriously... how gosh darn fun has that top line been so far? They're doing all of the little things - and the big ones - en route to some big point totals for the trio.
- The Flames weren’t about to get snuffed out that easily, though. Barely three minutes into the third period, they pushed back to cut the lead to two after a handful of Caps got caught looking at Michael Frolik in the corner… and forgot about Mark Giordano. You know, the guy who had 48 points in 61 games last year. Good plan.
- Jason Chimera scoring means it's been a good night. Smiles and high-fives all around...
- And even more so when Nicklas Backstrom can take advantage of an odd-man rush and flip a backhand shot over Jonas Hiller (who came in to relieve Ramo about halfway through the game). Sometimes we forget just how good a goal-scorer he is - but we never forget how good a player he is, and he continues to show no rust from his delayed start to the season.
Excellent work by the boys on the road to pick up two points and get the trip off to a solid start. Perfect penalty-killing, six even-strength goals, a milestone for the captain - good things abound. Keep it rolling.
And now, this...