A pair of early second-period oddities, within the opening three minutes, got the Caps rolling. John Carlson's shot from the off the right flank handcuffed goaltender Cam Talbot, who accidentally helped prod the puck into the short side, followed by a centring pass set up by a Talbot mis-play behind the net that unluckily caromed in off Calgary D-man Rasmus Andersson's left skate.
"Got sprayed a little bit in the face and kinda panicked for a second there, couldn't find the puck and put it in my own net," recalled Talbot of Washington's opener.
"Second one, I couldn't get the puck off the wall to Gio and by then the guy had sealed off that lane. I just gotta make a better play than that.
"You take the first two minutes of the second period out and I thought we played well enough to win."
Arguably the most damaging moment arrived, ironically, only 10 seconds after Austin Czarnik had slotted past Caps' goaltender Braden Holtby to draw the Flames level from that 2-0 deficit.
Out of nowhere, right off the ensuing draw, Washington was off 2-on-1, the deadly firm of Nicklas Backstrom to Alexander Ovechkin characteristically leaving nothing to chance: 3-2, visitors.
"They made a pretty bang-bang play there but I just took a little too much ice on the initial guy and didn't give myself a chance on the pass across,'' conceded Talbot.
"I step back and maybe I make that save.
"I thought we responded very well to those two goals to tie the game and then the momentum swing right off the face-off, they come down and score another one. We had some resiliency there and couldn't find an equalizer."
On Thursday, the Flames host Florida before travelling due east to face Winnipeg in the outdoor Heritage Classic, followed by an additional four road games, ending up in Washington.
"We didn't give up much through 40 but ended up chasing the game and couldn't get there in the end," summed up coach Bill Peters. "We worked hard to get it to 2-2 and 10 seconds later you're chasing the game again. That's a huge shift.
"After goals, powerplays … those bump-up shifts are huge. We've got to be better in that area."
"We've got another level to get to. We're very aware of that.
"We've got to get to it.
"We've got to get some desperation to our game. A little bit more hunger in 1-on-1 battles. I think we can be a lot better in some of the wall-work situations.