Backstrom, Ovechkin lead Capitals over Flames
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Nicklas Backstrom continues to make up for lost time.
Backstrom scoring twice for his second multipoint game to lead the Washington Capitals to a 6-2 victory over the struggling Calgary Flames on Tuesday night in just his second game of the season.
The 27-year-old forward missed the first three games as he recovered from offseason hip surgery. Backstrom looks fine now though with three goals and two assists since getting back in the lineup.
The Capitals blew the game open with three straight goals in the second period, with Backstrom’s first of the night making it 3-1 at 10:56.
”We played a solid game. I think we had a game plan before the game and we followed our structure pretty good,” Backstrom said. ”Then we capitalized on their mistakes in the second period.”
Backstrom’s goal epitomized the defensive struggles the Flames have endured all season in matching the worst start in franchise history.
Justin Williams – with all five Flames skaters affixed on him behind the net – fed the puck to an uncovered Backstrom in the slot and he hammered a one-timer past Karri Ramo.
”I was hoping to get it, to be honest. I was just trying to sneak up there in the slot. He made a great pass,” Backstrom said.
Just 41 seconds later, T.J. Oshie drove to the top of the crease, knocked Dougie Hamilton out of the way with a hit, and promptly converted Evgeny Kuznetsov’s centering pass before Hamilton could recover.
”It’s all of us making bad plays, bad decisions and getting out-battled,” Flames captain Mark Giordano said. ”Bottom line is this is as disappointing of a stretch as I can remember in a long time and we’ve got to turn it around.”
Alex Ovechkin broke a 1-1 tie 30 seconds into the second with his fourth goal of the season and 900th NHL point. His long shot was stopped by Ramo, but mishandled, allowing the Washington captain to poke in his rebound.
”It’s a huge milestone. I have to thank my teammates. It’s hard to do by yourself in this league,” said Ovechkin, who also had an assist.
His 479 goals are the most in the NHL since 2001-02, despite not starting his NHL career until 2005.
Andre Burakovsky, and Jason Chimera also scored for Washington and Kuznetsov had three assists. Braden Holtby stopped 17 shots for the Capitals, who were playing their first road game of the season and have opened with four wins in five games.
Sean Monahan and Giordano scored for Calgary, losers of five of six. The Flames have opened with four straight losses on home ice for the first time in franchise history. Also, two points through six games equals the club’s worst overall start. In 1997-98, Calgary began the season 0-4-2.
Flames coach Bob Hartley pointed to Ovechkin’s goal as a key moment in the game.
”I could feel the guys on the bench getting down. They came right back and they scored a third goal, a fourth one,” said Hartley. ”Right now, that’s where we have to show some character. We have to roll up our sleeves and be ready for any kinds of adversity because no one feels sorry for us around the league.”
Hartley pulled Ramo after the fourth goal. He left with 14 saves. Jonas Hiller allowed two goals on 12 shots in relief.
”Those aren’t bad goals. Those are defensive miscues,” Flames center Matt Stajan said. ”If you leave guys wide-open in front for easy goals in the scoring areas, you’re not going to win. We’ve gotta clean it up. This is embarrassing for our hockey club.”
Calgary is carrying three goalies, with 24-year-old Joni Ortio also on the roster.
NOTES: Calgary C Joe Colborne (broken thumb) made his season debut after missing the first give games. … Ortio has yet to even dress as the backup. He hasn’t played since his last preseason appearance on Oct. 1.