Zednik scored his first two goals of the season and Dainius Zubrus also notched a pair to lead the Washington Capitals to a 4-2 victory Monday over the Calgary Flames. “I felt great tonight, I got my shots and in the first period I got going,” said Zednik, who scored 82 goals in just over three seasons with the Candiens.
Zednik was recently demoted to Washington’s fourth line, but it was that trio that connected with 4:06 left in the second period to break a 1-1 tie and give the Capitals a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Gritty work along the end boards by Donald Brashear and Boyd Gordon helped work the puck free to Zednik behind the Flames net, where he fended off defenceman Andrew Ference and curled out in front, squeezing a shot through the pads of Miikka Kiprusoff.
“You could feel it on the bench, you could see it in his body language, the relief and the exuberance that he showed,” said Washington coach Glen Hanlon. “For someone who has played that many games and scored that many goals in the NHL, you could just tell that the puck was in his hands at the right time to get a chance to score.”‘
Hanlon said that despite moving Zednik to the fourth line, he didn’t want to impact his regular ice time and still used the 30-year-old Russian on the Capitals number one power-play unit.
“Sometimes when you are having trouble scoring, if you just go into the game not on a line that you are expecting to score on, maybe you relax a little bit,” Hanlon said.
Washington (4-3-4) returns home after picking up five of eight points on their four-game trek through the Northwest Division.
Jarome Iginla and Kristian Huselius scored for Calgary (3-6-1). The struggling Flames are 1-4-1 in their last six games and are tied with Columbus for 13th spot in the Western Conference, just one point ahead of the last place Phoenix Coyotes.
Zednik scored the eventual game winner at 10:27 of the third making it 3-1 on a breakaway.
Iginla answered back on a breakaway of his own less than two minutes later but Calgary could not get the tying goal past Olaf Kolzig, who finished the night with 38 saves.
Zubrus completed the scoring into an empty net with 19 seconds left.
“We’re really trying to establish the fact that we have to get the identity as a hard working team,” said Flames coach Jim Playfair. “We have spent a lot of time talking about our identity and we haven’t done the work required to re-establish it.”
The Flames head onto the road for three games beginning Wednesday in Detroit.
The game was scoreless when Huselius put Calgary ahead at 6:50 of the second period. However, Zubrus answered back with his sixth of the year on a power-play just 73 seconds later scoring from in close after defencemen Andrei Zyuzin and Robyn Regehr both failed to clear a Kiprusoff rebound.
“We have to find ways to seize momentum,” said Calgary right winger Chuck Kobasew. “When we get a goal, we have to roll with it and build from that. It’s happened a lot this year where the other team is scoring either early in the period or at the end of a period and that leads to momentum for them. We have to find a way to get momentum on our side.”
Winner of both the Vezina Trophy and William M. Jennings trophy last season, Kiprusoff finished the night with 27 saves. The Finn, who just turned 30, is the only NHL goaltender who has played in every minute of his team’s games.
Notes: Calgary D Dion Phaneuf returned to the lineup after missing one game with the flu. .q.q. Washington C Rico Fata and D Steve Eminger were both healthy scratches for the first time on the season. .q.q. The Flames were the last NHL opponent for Ovechkin to face. .q.q. Washington’s final 71 games will all take place in the Eastern time zone. .q.q. With eight goals, Washington LW Alexander Semin is only two short of matching the 10 goals he scored in 52 games as a rookie in 2003-04. Semin played in Russia last season.