Washington Capitals rout Calgary Flames, 7-2, with six-goal second period
Sunday, October 31, 2010; 2:30 AM
CALGARY - For 10 games the Washington Capitals talked about waiting for their typically dominant offense and power play to ignite and for the bounces to go their way. In the second period against the Calgary Flames on Saturday night, everything Washington could have wanted came together and more.
The Capitals erupted for six goals on 14 shots in the second period, including a pair of power-play goals and a penalty shot, en route to a 7-2 win on the final leg of a three-game, cross-continental road trip played in the span of four days.
The victory, Washington's third in their past four games, featured seven unanswered goals and display of chemistry by the Capitals' young guns. Nicklas Backstrom led all players with four points, while Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green and Alexander Semin notched three points each.
"I think we do simple stuff and then we score," said Ovechkin, who posted first and second power play goals of the season in the second period flurry. "So it was the most important thing, when we move the puck we use our chances. I think the first goal was pretty big for us and after that they take two penalties and we use that chance again."
Washington and Calgary both entered the contest coming off ugly, disappointing losses and looking to cure their ills with a statement win. The Flames dominated play early and jumped out to a two-goal lead after tallies by Olli Jokinen and Curtis Glencross that were deflected at least once on their way to the back of the net.
Those goals were all that Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth would allow in a 25-save effort. Neuvirth's ability to hold the Flames at bay during the first period, as he stopped 14 of 16 shots, and prevent rebounds on a critical penalty kill immediately following Calgary's second goal prevented the Capitals from facing a much larger deficit.
There were "no rebounds, and he kept getting faceoffs, and our tired guys were allowed to come back, and we were allowed to make changes," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "That's what he does: He controls rebounds. He's got a great vision of the game and knows when to slow it down when to speed it up. Well beyond his years."
Late in the first period while on their second power play opportunity of the game, the Capitals demonstrated the offensive poise that allowed them to lead the league with the man advantage a season ago. After a series of quick passes, Green sent a nice cross-ice pass to Backstrom who beat Calgary's Mikka Kiprusoff to make it 2-1.
"It's so important right now [for] the special teams to get the power play going. That's huge for us," Backstrom said. "I think we've been waiting for this. We've been struggling. We haven't been scoring as much as we've wanted. And here today, I don't know really what happened, but it was positive for us."
The offensive floodgates opened for Washington at the start of the second. Calgary took two quick penalties - one for too many men on the ice, the other a tripping call on Glencross - giving the Capitals 1 minute 38 seconds of a two-man advantage.
Ovechkin notched his first power-play goal of the year with a slap shot from the left faceoff circle to tie the contest. All of 13 seconds later, he added his second power-play tally from a nearly identical spot on the ice to give Washington its first lead less than four minutes into the second period. It marked the third time in his career that Ovechkin scored twice in a minute, but this combination was the fastest.
After scoring only four power-play goals on 38 opportunities through 10 games this season, the Capitals ripped off three on four chances against the Flames, whose penalty killers entered the contest with an 87.8 percent success rate (36 of 41).
Green notched his first goal of the season after a nice set up from Semin to make it 4-2 midway through the period. Another 13 seconds later, Calgary's Cory Sarich shot toward his own net, the puck bounced off Matt Bradley to give the Capitals a 5-2 lead. Semin would add a goal of his own and then David Steckel drew his first penalty shot attempt while the Capitals were short-handed. He sent the water bottle flying to make it 7-2 at the end of the second.
"I think it was important that we came out and played strong tonight. I think the last game we really were disappointed with our game," Green said. "We didn't get off to the start we wanted, but we stuck to our system . . . and that's what happens when we do that. Not only that, but we had a power play that we actually capitalized on and that got us momentum and guys started to believe."
Despite the onslaught of goals in the second, the period was not a Washington record. The Capitals scored eight in a single frame against Tampa Bay on February 3, 1999, and also set the franchise mark with nine unanswered goals in that game.