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GR8 FRIGHT!

Ovechkin's play can be downright horrifying for the opposition, so Flames will keep close eye on Caps' sniper

by ARI YANOVER @NHLFlames / calgaryflames.com

In the spirit of Halloween: what's scarier than an Alex Ovechkin slap shot on the powerplay?

Not much right now.

Tonight, the Flames welcome the Washington Capitals for their only visit this season to the Scotiabank Saddledome (7 p.m., TV: SN360, Radio: Sportsnet960 The FAN).

With them, they welcome one of the NHL's most prolific scorers.

Ovechkin kicked off his season with seven goals in his first two games. He's added three since then, and is tied for fourth in NHL scoring with 15 points - along with his linemate, Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Of course, Ovechkin can do more than just score. He had three assists in the Caps' 5-2 win over the Oilers Saturday night.

"I think it starts with, obviously, Ovechkin scoring a lot of goals and feeling good," Flames captain Mark Giordano said after his team's morning skate Sunday. "He's playing well, so he's the leader of their team, and they really push the pace offensively. They have a real good skill set over there. Their players can all beat you one on one. So for us, it's time and space."

Coach Glen Gulutzan stressed the importance of the Flames playing as a five-man unit against the Capitals.

"You have to play in fives against these guys because one-on-one they've got some really outstanding players," he said. "So you've got to play a real tight five-on-five game through the neutral zone, offensive zone, and you've got to be close.

"The one thing with Washington, I think, that makes them so good is they've got a really good blend. Their skilled guys are big and they can play a fast game and they can play a heavy game."

The Flames have surrendered two powerplay goals in each of their last three games, so the penalty-kill - especially against a team like Washington, currently with a 22.9% success rate with the man advantage - will be a point of focus.

"Well, yeah, it's a challenge," Giordano said. "We've talked about it here the last couple of days, we really have to sharpen up and clean up our penalty kill. I think it's never as bad as you think it is … a bounce here and there and we'll be off and we're killing a bunch in a row. 

"But with this group, little bit different look. They usually set up with a lot of righties, so, again, we have to be aware where their shooters are and they have quite a few of them over there."

Mike Smith is well aware of how the Capitals play, and he's certainly aware of what Ovechkin can do.

"I think any time you play against teams with snipers like (Ovechkin), you're always aware when he's on the ice," he said. "You have to be. I think not just as a goalie but as a player, too. So I think you have to be aware of their best players, obviously he's scored a lot of goals from that spot, so, we know where he is, but it's up to us to try and take it away as much as we can and it's up to me to make some saves there.

"My job is the same, it's to stop the puck. We can limit those chances from those good players and give ourselves a better chance to win the game."

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