CALGARY – Alex Ovechkin believes his Washington Capitals are the most skilled team in the NHL. After Saturday night, the Calgary Flames might agree.
The two-time league MVP scored twice on the power-play in a 12-second span, and the Washington Capitals erupted for six unanswered goals in the second period in a 7-2 rout of the Flames.
“All the time I’ve said we have the skills, I think we have more guys with the best skills in the league and sometimes we just haven’t used it,” said Ovechkin. “We try to be too casual and tonight’s game we played pretty good.”
Ovechkin entered the game with one goal in his last six, while the typically high-scoring Capitals had been held to ten goals in their past five.
However, they got back to their high-flying ways at the expense of a Calgary Flames team that blew a two-goal lead for the second straight game.
The turning point came early in the second period after Calgary’s Curtis Glencross was penalized with Calgary already down a man.
Ovechkin beat Miikka Kiprusoff on the ensuing 5-on-3 with a wicked one-timer off a pass from Mike Green at 3:43 to knot the score 2-2.
The Russian sniper then buried his seventh goal of the season a dozen seconds later, ripping a shot just inside the far post off a feed Alexander Semin.
“When you put a team like that on a 5-on-3, you’re in dangerous territory and they certainly capitalized on it,” Flames coach Brent Sutter said.
Washington scored twice more to make it 5-2 before the Flames even registered a shot in the period.
At 10:28, Green joined Semin on a 2-on-1 rush and ripped a wrist shot into the top corner.
Thirteen seconds after that, Flames defenceman Cory Sarich, trying to whack the puck away from Matt Bradley in the slot, had his clearing attempt deflect off Bradley’s stick and zip past a stunned Kiprusoff into the top corner of his own net.
“Anytime we’re working hard, we’re getting opportunities to score. When we’re sitting back, and making those lazy plays, that’s when we get in trouble and we have no chemistry,” Green said. “Tonight everybody was working hard, and that’s why we had the momentum to go and win.”
It was the first goal of the campaign for Green, who also added two assists. Green led NHL defenceman in scoring each of the past three seasons.
“That’s us at our best for sure. Now we need to keep playing like that throughout the season,” Green added. “We’re going to have our ups and downs, but it’s good for us to have a game like that.”
Washington went 3-for-4 with the man advantage after coming into the night 0-for-16 in the previous five games.
Nicklas Backstrom with a goal and three assists, Semin, and David Steckel on a penalty shot rounded out the scoring for Washington (7-4-0).
Olli Jokinen and Glencross scored for Calgary (6-5-0). The Flames have lost back-to-back games on their five-game homestand, having blown a two-goal lead in each. They also blew a three-goal lead Tuesday only to escape with a shootout victory against Edmonton.
“We’ve got to be a smarter team. When you’re at this level, you can’t play a dumb game,” said Sutter. “Tonight we took some bad penalties and they nailed us for it and then it snowballed.”
After Semin’s goal at 13:55, Sutter pulled Kiprusoff and replaced him with Henrik Karlsson. The Swede yielded Steckel’s penalty shot goal on his only shot. Kiprusoff returned for the third period.
“It doesn’t seem like we’re learning our lesson,” Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr said. “For us, we have to take pride in playing the way we do at the start of the game and just continue on. It’s a hard way to play but that’s the way we have to do it.
“When we get away from that, we’re no good and we lose games.”
Calgary opened the scoring 44 seconds in when Jay Bouwmeester flung a shot towards the net that hit Capitals defenceman Karl Alzner in the upper body. The puck carmoned off Jokinen skating through the slot and found its way past Michal Neuvirth.
Glencross made it 2-0 at 11:05 but Backstrom got the Capitals on the scoreboard with a power-play goal at 15:22.
Notes: Washington Bruce Boudreau shook up his lineup, sitting forwards Eric Fehr and rookie Mathieu Perreault and inserting Boyd Gordon and D.J. King. … The Capitals top two lines also had a new look with Semin replacing Mike Knuble on the top line with Ovechkin and Backstrom. The second line was Brooks Laich centring Tomas Fleischmann and Knuble. … Knuble played his 900th NHL game… Flames RW Tim Jackman scrapped with Matt Hendricks and has now fought in four straight games. … Calgary D Brendan Mikkelson had an assist, his first point as a Flame. … Saturday marked the sixth time the Flames have given up six goals in a period and first time since Jan. 7, 1984, when they yielded six to the Los Angeles Kings in the third period of a 7-1 loss.