The Washington Capitals host the Calgary Flames in D.C. Monday night for the one and only time this season, looking to build upon Saturday’s solid win over the Wild.
By Mark Reilly
Calgary Flames at Washington Capitals
Time: 7.00 PM ET
Venue: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
TV: NBC Sports Washington+, TVAS, SNW
The Washington Capitals (11-9-1) erased the memories of two ugly road games with a fine display at home against the Minnesota Wild (9-8-2) – a team that came into town riding a four-game winning streak.
The Capitals out-shot the Wild 43-31, out-hit them 29-16 and – most importantly won the game 3-1. The top-six forwards, who had struggled of late, produced the goods and combined for 20 shots, two goals and four assists. Defenseman Matt Niskanen scored an assist and had five shots, while the much-improved Dmitry Orlov tallied his second goal of the season. And, of course, Braden Holtby rock-solid in goal with 30 saves.
Alex Ovechkin Leaves Ice After Taking Puck To The Face
However, there was a scary moment halfway through the second period when Alex Ovechkin took a puck to the mouth from close range. Bleeding profusely from his upper lip, Ovechkin left the ice in a hurry. However, a few stitches later, he was back on the ice and played a big role in his team’s win.
Puck rode up Ovechkin’s stick into his face, left a lot of blood on the ice. pic.twitter.com/kSWBzqklJs
— Evan Sporer (@ev_sporer) November 19, 2017
Luckily, Ovechkin didn’t lose any teeth.
“Just try to feel my tooth, and it’s fine,” Ovechkin said. “Just moving a little bit, but it’s fine. It’s hockey.”
“Does he have anymore teeth?” team-mate Nicklas Backstrom joked later.
Big Guns on Fire
T.J. Oshie started the scoring halfway through the first period, assisted by Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov during a Capitals power play. It was Oshie’s 10th goal of the season. A few minutes later, Minnesota pulled one back when Nino Niederreiter scored his own power-goal. Only 44 seconds later, Orlov’s scored with a nice snapshot from near the blue line to put the Caps up 2-1; Niskanen and Oshie assisted. There were no more goals until 17:23 into the third when Kuznetsov slotted home during another power play for his fifth goal of the season. Ovechkin supplied a sublime pass for the assist with John Carlson getting the other helper.
It was a huge two points for Washington as the Metropolitan Division is extremely tight so far this season with only five points separating the top team from the bottom team. The Capitals’ 23 points puts them in fifth place but only three points below the three teams at the top (Blue Jackets, Devils and Penguins).
Calgary Flames Next
Next up for the Capitals is the Calgary Flames (11-8-0) at the Capital One Arena on Monday at 7.00 PM Eastern; it’s the third of a six-game road trip for the Flames. So far on their travels, they fell heavily to the Detroit Red Wings 8-2 but secured a 5-4 overtime win in Philadelphia.
The Flames player to watch out for in Monday’s contest with the Caps is Sean Monahan – Calgary’s first-line forward who recorded his first career hat-trick on Saturday against the Flyers. And, Monahan enjoys playing the Capitals; he’s scored three game-clinching goals in only nine career meetings with Washington – which represents his highest goal hoard against any NHL team.
The Flames traveled to D.C. via a train with the whole team wearing throwback suits from the 1950’s. We’re not really sure why, but if they decide to also play with 1950’s equipment, the Capitals’ odds of winning the game will increase tenfold.
CAL going old-school with the attire and transportation — train to WASH. Love the cigar pic.twitter.com/k5j20Iw1Vq
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) November 18, 2017
Poor Penalty-Kill Versus Improving Power Play
Calgary and Washington last met on Oct. 29 out West during the Caps’ three-game trip to Canada. The match-up was tied at 1-1 in the third period until Johnny Gaudreau set up that man Monahan for the game-winner.
Also of note: The Flames’ penalty-kill success rate is the worst in the NHL at 70.6 percent; their opponents have netted 12 times in the 19 power plays the Flames have defended this term. Meanwhile, the Capitals sit 11th on the power-play conversion table – so watch for Washington to draw as many penalties as possible. Also key for the Capitals is to lessen the giveaways and takeaways. The team has created numerous goals for their opponents this season by turning the puck over in their own zone. Washington has allowed 66 goals which is 25th in the league – and a lot of those goals were a result of some drops in concentration.
If the Capitals play to all of their strengths on Monday – like they did against Minnesota – they could finally wrack up a big win to go along with the only other lopsided victory (the 6-1 destruction of the Canadiens back on Oct. 7.). Holtby is expected to start in goal for Washington which will certainly help the Capitals achieve that goal.