The Washington Capitals conclude their western Canadian trip on Sunday, finishing their third set of back-to-back games this season against the Calgary Flames. The Capitals broke a two-game losing skid last night with a 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers, while the Flames look to extinguish their own two-game losing streak.
The Capitals are looking to win their first game that is on the backend on a back-to-back. Washington has played two previous sets of back-to-back games, winning the first in each but losing in the second. They are coming into tonight’s game off the heels of a 5-2 comeback victory in Edmonton last night.
The Capitals have allowed the first goal in each of the past six games going 2-4-0 in that span. They allowed the first two goals to the Oilers last night before scoring five straight goals to go on to win the game.
The Capitals were going into Edmonton last night looking for more secondary scoring as most of the team’s goals have come from the trio of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and T.J. Oshie. They got it as Evgeny Kuznetsov scored twice for his second and third goals in the past two games. Devante Smith-Pelly and Lars Eller also got their first goals of the season last night. Eller played really strong, putting up five shots on Oilers’ goaltender Cam Talbot. Jay Beagle scored an empty net goal for his second of the season.
Alex Chiasson scored 12 goals and 24 points in 81 games with the Flames last season but was not offered a contract when he was a restricted free agent this offseason. He signed a PTO with Washington on September 9 and a 1-year contract on October 3. He has an assist and a -2 rating through 10 games this season.
Washington is hoping Saturday night’s victory is a building block and that it will continue on Sunday night in Calgary. Phillipp Grubauer will most likely get the call in net after Braden Holtby made 38 saves against the Oilers last night.
The Flames will be without former Capital Jaromir Jagr for the fourth straight game with a lower-body injury on Sunday. Jagr signed a 1-year contract with the Flames on October 4 as a free agent.
Calgary plays the second game of a season-long seven game homestand. They opened it with a 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars. The Flames have dropped four of their last five contests.
The Flames boast one of the NHL’s deepest bluelines, probably the deepest right now as Ryan Ellis of the Nashville Predators is out for several months after having offseason knee surgery. Their blueline is headlined by captain Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton. Giordano has scored 35+ points in each of the past four seasons. Hamilton, at only 24 years of age, has a goal and five points in the Flames’ first 11 games and had career highs with 13 goals and 50 points last season. He was acquired in a trade with the Boston Bruins in 2015.
The Flames will most likely start Mike Smith in net. Acquired in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes before the expansion draft this offseason, Smith has been strong. The 35-year old goaltender is 5-5-0 with a .927 save percentage and a 2.44 goals against average. He stopped 22 of 24 shots in the Flames’ 2-1 loss against the Stars on Friday.
Johnny Gaudreau leads the Flames in scoring with 3 goals and 13 points through 11 games. He scored the Flames’ lone goal on Friday night.
A Look Back in Time
The last time these two teams met was on March 21 at Capital One Arena. T.J. Oshie scored his 30th goal of the season, Ovechkin had his 29th, and Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom each struck en route to a 4-2 Capitals victory. The Capitals ended goaltender Brian Elliott’s winning streak of 11 games.
-Evgeny Kuznetsov is three points shy of his 200th career NHL point
-the Capitals are 5-1-2 against the Flames since the NHL changed the standings alignment in 2013-14
-Nicklas Backstrom has 7 goals and 20 points in 13 career outings against the Flames
By Harrison Brown