Not playing against the Calgary Flames in the shortened season a year ago, Alexander Ovechkin reminded just how impressive he can be.
Ovechkin scored twice in the second period and added another in the shootout to help lift the Capitals to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over the Flames on Thursday night.
But it was Nicklas Backstrom who drew Washington even late in the third to force overtime and the subsequent shootout.
On the power play after TJ Galiardi’s goaltender interference penalty, a scrambled puck in the slot found Backstrom’s stick, who ripped a puck behind Ramo at 14:10 to push the score to 4-4.
Tied, Calgary pushed hard to end the game late in the third. Neuvirth blockered away a Lee Stempniak shot and kept out the ensuing crease scramble in the dying seconds of the period to force overtime and earn the win.
Though it wasn’t the result the Flames were looking for in their season opener, Calgary enjoyed a hot start in Washington thanks in part to two of Calgary’s newest additions.
David Jones bulled his through the Washington zone before firing a short side shot over the shoulder of starter Braden Holtby to give Calgary a 1-0 lead at 5:18. Forcing the turnover just outside the Capitals blueline to give Jones the puck, Sean Monahan earned his first career National Hockey League point.
Stempniak notched his first of the season five minutes later, snatching a Mark Giordano rebound and putting it behind Holtby to extend the Flames’ lead to 2-0.
Goaltender Karri Ramo kept the Capitals at bay with a right pad save off Ovechkin just two minutes after Stempniak’s goal. It was one of 12 made by the goaltender in the opening 20 minutes.
A power play goal from Jiri Hudler extended Calgary’s lead to three before the period let out. With former Calgary Hitmen defenceman Karl Alzner in the penalty box for interference, Hudler ripped a slap shot over Holtby’s shoulder at 16:22, putting Calgary up 3-0 and chasing the Capitals starter from the game.
The Capitals awoke in the second.
After serving two minutes for hooking, Connor Carrick was welcomed out of the penalty box with a clear-cut breakaway. Streaking in on Ramo, Carrick deked the Flames goaltender and slid the puck over the line to cut the lead to 3-1 at 7:30.
Lance Bouma restored the three-goal edge at 9:05, firing a Brian McGrattan pass behind Michal Neuvirth to make it 4-1.
Washington responded back with two of their own off the stick of Ovechkin.
On the power play with Jones in the box, the Capitals captain fired a shot that deflected off the stick of TJ Brodie and behind Ramo at 11:24. Ovechkin’s second came at 15:25, ripping a shot off the draw over Ramo’s glove to cut the lead to 4-3.
His pair set the stage for Backstrom’s game-tying goal in the third and eventual shootout win over the Flames.
GOAL OF THE GAME
Barreling down the wing, Jones scored Calgary’s first of the season with a wicked short-side shot that beat Holtby over the glove. On the play, Monahan recorded his first career NHL point.
SAVE OF THE GAME
With 38 seconds remaining in overtime, Ramo blockered away Karl Alzner’s wrist shot to push the game into overtime.
Neuvirth denied both Sven Baertschi and Hudler in the shootout to make both Mikhail Grabovski and Ovechkin's shootout goals stand.
QUOTE OF THE GAME
"I'm accountable for it and we'll move past it."
-Galiardi on his penalty in the third period
STAT OF THE GAME
Monahan’s assist on the game’s opening goal from Jones marks the first career NHL point for the 18-year-old.
Tim Jackman, Joe Colborne and Derek Smith were all scratched for the game.
The Flames are back in action Friday night when they are hosted by the Columbus Blue Jackets (5 PM MST, SNET-W).