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Capitals @ Flames Recap: Caps Douse Flames in a Grand 5-4 Win

The Caps celebrated Ovechkin and Backstrom’s 1,000th NHL game together with a decisive win in Calgary.

Washington Capitals v Calgary Flames Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

The last time the Washington Capitals and Calgary Flames faced off was on October 23, when Elias Lindholm led the Flames to a 4-3 OT win with a hat trick. The Capitals have their work cut out for them tonight, because the Flames are one of the best teams in the league when it comes to playing on home ice. Working in the Caps’ favor: the Flames are coming off a taxing game last night against the Oilers in the latest installment of the Battle of Alberta.

The Capitals iced the same lineup tonight as they did on Saturday night against Seattle:

Vitek Vanecek once again got the starting nod from Laviolette, with Calgary’s Dan Vladar playing opposite him. Of course, the biggest story for the Caps tonight is Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom playing in their 1,000th NHL game together. It seems like it was just yesterday that Ovechkin was calling Backstrom’s name at the 2006 NHL draft, and now here they are. Congrats to one of the best duos in the game, now let’s do that hockey.

Here’s Tuesday night’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: Washington’s third line of McMichael—Eller—Sheary was the spark the team needed tonight. They opened the scoring for the Capitals, and their pressure on Calgary’s defense was consistent.

Minus: The Caps should have had the upper hand tonight over a tired Flames team, but sloppy puck movement led to a few very costly mistakes.

And now, a walk down memory lane:

Twelve more notes on the game:

1. Nick Jensen took a holding penalty on Blake Coleman just 32 seconds into the game, putting the Capitals on the penalty kill early on. The Flames’ power play has been operating at 33% in their last nine games. Calgary looked like they might get the better of Washington’s PK, especially with Tyler Toffoli wide open at one point, but the Caps held the Flames’ power play to no shots. Early crisis averted.

2. Rasmus Andersson was called for hooking on Tom Wilson at 7:59 a minute after it looked like Andrew Mangiapane opened the scoring (the goal was called back after the Caps successfully challenged that the play was offside). The Flames have the best home penalty kill in the league at 92.4% and it showed, with the Capitals recording no shots on goal.

3. Just after his penalty expired, Andersson set up an excellent two-on-one for Calgary with Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm. Johnny Hockey sent a beautiful snap pass to Lindholm between Orlov’s stick and legs, and Lindholm did not miss with a wrister past Vitek Vanecek. 1-0 Flames with 10:20 to go.

4. The Capitals got their second power play chance of the game 4:26 into the second when Noah Hanifin took a seat for interference on Conor Sheary. The Flames continued to demonstrate why they have the best home penalty kill in the league, completely stifling Washington’s power play effort. The Caps barely managed to get set up before the Flames cleared the puck, and they once again registered no shots on goal.

5. The Capitals turned the puck over in their own zone, and the Flames made them pay for the mistake with a goal from Adam Ruzicka at 8:54 in the middle frame. Dillon Dube intercepted an errant pass from Nick Jensen and passed the puck to Mangiapane, who was falling over but managed to slide the puck over to Ruzicka in front of Vanecek. 2-0 Calgary after another costly mistake from the Caps.

6. Short King Conor Sheary finally got the Capitals on the board with a beautiful shot on a rebound from Lars Eller. Connor McMichael got the whole play started with a great pass to Eller on the rush, and Eller’s shot went off Dan Vladar’s glove before getting kicked out into the slot. Sheary was right there to clean up the rebound and send the puck right over Vladar’s glove to cut Calgary’s lead in half.

Conor Sheary’s point streak now extends to four games, with four goals and two assists.

7. A mere three minutes later, who else but Alex Ovechkin tied things up for the Capitals after a great effort on the forecheck. Ovechkin finished his check on Chris Tanev in the corner, which knocked the puck loose to the left circle. The Flames tried to regain control of the puck but Evgeny Kuznetsov forced the turnover with his skates, and he left the puck in the perfect place for Ovi to send it past Vladar.

That’s goal number 765, one away from tying Jaromir Jagr for third all-time. Ovechkin now has six goals in his last eight games and 35 goals on the season. Happy 8-19 night indeed.

Additionally, don’t forget what an Ovi goal means:

8. 3:45 into the third, Oliver Kylington put the Flames back in the lead with a point shot that made its way to the back of the net through a lot of traffic in front of the net. Between an accidental screen from John Carlson and the puck glancing off McMichael’s stick, Vanecek did not stand a chance.

9. Calgary did not hold onto their lead for long because Anthony Mantha decided that since Jakub Vrana scored in Detroit tonight, he would also score a goal to maintain the trade balance. The goal, his first since his return from shoulder surgery, came on a sweet shot from the right circle that sailed over Vladar’s glove at 8:21 of the third.

Nicklas Backstrom recorded the primary assist on the tally, bringing him to 998 career points.

10. The Capitals headed to their third power play of the night with 10:33 left in the third after Ruzicka tripped McMichael, but it was really just another excuse for the Flames to show off their penalty kill. However, Washington’s fourth line stepped on the ice after Ruzicka’s penalty expired and it took Nic Dowd just 23 seconds of five-on-five play to give the Capitals their first lead of the night. Dowd’s shot was an absolute snipe from Ovi’s Office, and Garnet Hathaway made a perfect screen on Vladar to give Dowd some assistance.

Dowd has played well all night, and clearly the hockey gods saw fit to reward him with a goal. 4-3 Capitals with 8:10 to go.

11. The Flames pulled Dan Vladar with two minutes to go, and with 1:47 to go Alex Ovechkin tied Jaromir Jagr for third on the all-time NHL goals list with his 766th career goal. That’s it, that’s the tweet.

12. The Flames weren’t quite done, getting one back with 39.9 seconds left on the clock. Tyler Toffoli fired the puck on net, and Elias Lindholm was in the slot to deflect it past Vanecek. No worries though, the Capitals held on for a 5-4 win.

Up next for the Caps: a trip to Edmonton to face the Oilers tomorrow night at 8PM ET.