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Flames rally from early, two-goal deficit, but Ovechkin and the Caps storm back and hand the locals a 5-3 loss

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick /

A couple of tough breaks put them in a hole.

But, to their credit, the Flames have proven already in this young season that they can scratch, claw, and spar their way out of a multi-goal deficit.

They did.

Trouble is, one of the greatest goal-scorers ever to play the game hadn't arrived yet.

And he has a habit of making an entrance.


Video: Brendan Parker recaps the loss to the Capitals.


In the immediate aftermath of Austin Czarnik's first goal of the season - a greasy effort at the end of a powerplay to even the score at two - Alex Ovechkin came back the other way and muted the masses late in the second period.

A dagger in the form of a rocket, only 10 seconds after the building rose to party.

Tom Wilson added the insurance late in the third period as the Washington Capitals went on to win 5-3 on Tuesday at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Elias Lindholm and Tobi Rieder had Calgary's other goals, while Cam Talbot made 25 saves in a losing effort.

"That's tough," said Head Coach Bill Peters. "You've worked hard to get it to 2-2 and 10 seconds later, you're chasing the game once again. That's a huge shift. All those shifts after goals - after powerplays, penalty kills, those bump-up shifts - we need to be better in that area."

The Flames were far and away the better team in the opening 20, out-shooting the Capitals 15-9 and getting the better of the chances with an 8-6 edge in that regard.

The best, though, didn't even count as a shot, as the rebound from a shot off the wing popped into the wheelhouse of a hard-charging Rasmus Andersson between the hash marks, but the D man whiffed on the bouncing puck, preserving the 0-0 tie after one period of play.

However, just 35 seconds into the middle, a short-side softball from the red-hot John Carlson completely altered the tune of this one.

Carlson came down the wall and whipped a low shot on target, the puck bouncing off the blade of Talbot's goal stick, tumbling slowly across the line and giving the Caps a 1-0 lead on a play the netminder would surely like back.

Another bounce went the way of the visitors less than two-and-a-half minutes later, and the Flames were facing another steep, uphill climb. This time, it was Chandler Stephenson winning a puck battle down low and reeling a pass out front with Talbot caught behind the net. The puck - somehow - found the skate of Andersson on the flyby, pinballing back into the empty cage for the two-nil tally.

The Flames got it right back, though, on a powerplay chance at 3:19. Johnny Gaudreau's cross-box feed found Lindholm at the top of the far circle, and the Flames' leading goal-getter made no mistake with a snipe over the mitt of Braden Holtby.


Tweet from @NHLFlames: Goal 6��� for Lindy!#WSHvsCGY | #Flames


Czarnik evened things up with his first year at 16:25 and he banged home a loose puck at the side of the net on the powerplay, but the Great 8 checked in precisely 10 seconds later, as he rifled home a Nicklas Backstrom pass on a 2-on-1 right off the faceoff.


Tweet from @NHLFlames: Big Z's first of the year 🔥#WSHvsCGY | #Flames


The Flames were unable to muster much else the rest of the way.

"We know we've got another level to get to and we're very aware of that," said Peters. "We've got to get to it, we've got to get some desperation in our game, a little more hunger and some one-on-one battles, better at some of the wall work in certain situations and that'll improve our game."

Wilson put the outcome on ice with his fourth of the year at 12:34 of the third, and Carlson popped home his fifth of the year (and 20th point) into the empty net at 18:15.

Rieder scored his first of the year with 15 seconds left, but the milestone goal was of little consolation in what finished as a 5-3 final.



Former Flame Garnet Hathaway returned to the Scotiabank Saddledome after signing a four-year contract with the Capitals back on Jul. 1. Undrafted, Hathaway appeared in 175 games for the Flames over four seasons after signing a free-agent deal out of college, and had 40 points (16G, 24A), along with 219 penalty minutes during his time in Calgary. "This is where I got my start," Hathaway said. "It's the whole organization that gave me a chance. From the training staff, to all the guys in the brass, to everyone around the room, it's a special place to come back to." … With a goal tonight, John Carlson now has a league-leading 20 points (5G, 15A) in 11 games. Only three other defencemen in NHL history have tallied 20 points in the month of October, and Carlson - who was recently named the NHL's Second Star of the Week - is making waves with another week left to play. ... Tobias Rieder's goal was his first in 75 games after going the entire season last year without tickling the twine. His last goal came on Apr. 5, 2018.


Tweet from @NHLFlames: 'Lil back and forth between old teammates.#WSHvsCGY | #Flames




"I feel like I gave them too much momentum to start the second there. First one, I got sprayed a little bit in the face and kind of panicked there for a second and couldn't find the puck, and put it in my own net. Second one, I just couldn't get the puck off the wall to Gio, and by that time, that guy had already sealed off the lane and I just have to make a better play that that. You take the first two minutes out of the second period and I thought we played well enough to win."


"It's frustrating. ... We've got to be better 5-on-5. We've got to produce and put some pucks to the net. It's not an easy league to score in, so we've got to step up and - I'll take some of that on myself. It's frustrating. I don't think we played terrible tonight, we had chances, but two goals on the powerplay and obviously one late there, it's not going to cut it."


"They're probably the best we've played this year. They've got a good team over there, top to bottom, real good depth. They work hard, their top guys played well and they've got great goaltending and good defence, as well, so they are a good team and that's a good measuring-stick team. If we can take any positives, it's that we carried stretches of that. But when you go down in the third, I don't know what the stats are, but it's never a good thing when you're down going into the third period. We had our chances but they weren't good enough."




Video: "We had our chances but they weren't good enough."



Here are the forward lines, D pairings and goalie to start Tuesday's game (starters in bold):



Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Elias Lindholm
Matthew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - Austin Czarnik
Andrew Mangiapane - Derek Ryan - Tobias Rieder
Milan Lucic - Mark Jankowski - Michael Frolik



Mark Giordano - Rasmus Andersson
Noah Hanifin - Travis Hamonic
TJ Brodie - Michael Stone



Cam Talbot


Video: "10 seconds later, you're chasing the game."



The Flames close out this mini two-game homestand on Thursday when they host the Florida Panthers at 7 p.m. (click here for tickets).

Then, the Flames hit the road for a season-long, five-game road trip beginning on Saturday with the 2019 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Sask. That night, the Flames will debut their new retro white sweaters, which are available NOW

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