With a three-game win-streak under their belts after a 4-2 comeback victory in Columbus against the Bluejackets, the Capitals returned home to a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames. Prior to the stretch of wins, the Caps have struggled to maintain any kind of momentum and consistency, despite how strong they played the last game. Here, that was not the case, and they have stretched their streak to four games going into a long rest-period before a road game out West.
The Caps have had the most trouble in setting the tone on the road – evident in the win in Columbus where Washington had to come back after being down 2-0 to the Bluejackets after two periods. At home, it has been the opposite, where in three straight games, the Caps have been able to score first. Tuesday’s game told the same story, as after an early power play earned within the first minute of the game, the team-leader in scoring and the NHL’s “Second Star” of the Week, Alex Ovechkin, got the Caps the early 1-0 lead.
Ovechkin continued to help power the offense, blasting a shot from the point on Washington’s second power play of the game and Troy Brouwer tipping in the puck past Mikka Kiprusoff. After the goal, the Caps looked as though they were slowing down after giving up a goal to Curtis Glencross, but just over three minutes after the Flames’ goal, Dennis Wideman took a feed from Nicklas Backstrom’s heads-up play behind the Calgary net.
With the exciting goals from Washington’s most talented players and the return of Mike Green (who was out with injury since Nov. 11), Tomas Vokoun’s performance was almost buried in Caps’ news. Tuesday evening, Vokoun, once again, played a solid game, keeping the Caps with the lead making great saves. He did not receive credit as one of the Three Stars, but his play did not go unnoticed by his teammates.
“Our goalie [Tomas Vokoun] played unbelievable,” said Ovechkin. “He made great saves and gave us a little breathing [room].”
Coach Dale Hunter also took note of Vokoun’s game against the Flames, commending his composure as a veteran goalie.
“They had some great scoring chances in the third and in the second and he came up big with some big saves for us,” said Hunter. “It kept the score what it was.”
In evaluating the win over Calgary, starting the game well was important for the Caps, but even more important was sustaining that momentum, and they have been able to do so during their four-game win streak. It has led to playing better hockey games for a team that has had a surprising struggle thus far this season.
“We just want to win every game,” said Ovechkin, “and this is too good [of a] group to be in the middle. We just want to be in the playoffs.”
The Capitals will have a chance to create more wins and further prove their stock, as they return on the road for a game Saturday night with the San Jose Sharks and then Monday against the L.A. Kings.
Notes: Nicklas Backstrom, who was hit with an elbow, was being evaluated by the team after the game… Alex Semin did not play.