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Jakub Vrana's hat-trick leads Caps to win that stops Flames two-game win streak

by TY PILSON @typilson /

The Washington Capitals top the NHL standings.

And the 2018 Stanley Cup champs enjoy a perch at the top of the league for a reason.

They came into Sunday night's tilt at home against the Flames with a record of 10-2-3, an impressive 8-1-1 in their last 10 tilts.

But the visitors gave them everything they could handle, playing a solid road game however they came out on the wrong side of the final score by a 4-2 margin.

The loss saw the Flames two-game winning streak snapped.


Video: Brendan Parker wraps up Sunday's tilt

Andrew Mangiapane and Elias Lindholm scored for the Flames.

One of the hardest working men in hockey - goalie David Rittich who's been incredible for the club - got the night off, Cam Talbot starting between the pipes and standing tall, making 28 saves.

Coach Bill Peters mixed his lines up a bit to start the game, moving Mangiapane up with Mikael Backlund and the red-hot Matthew Tkachuk.

It was a great call, as the trio - who started the tilt - displayed chemistry early and ended up opening the scoring at the 5:40 mark.

A Backlund faceoff win in the Caps zone led to Tkachuk intercepting a pass from Dmitry Orlov behind the net and feeding it out to Mangiapane, the lefty on his off wing and able to skate out and across the crease and wrap the puck around Ilya Samsonov.


Tweet from @NHLFlames: Can't stop, won't stop.#CGYvsWSH | #Flames


This gif - hard to beat.


Tweet from @NHLFlames: 🍞 time.#CGYvsWSH | #Flames


Jakub Vrana - who was coming off a two-goal performance in the Caps 6-1 win over the Sabres on Friday - then scored two straight to give his team the lead. 

He worked himself open with his speed on a two-on-one to take a pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov and snapped it home short-side past Cam Talbot at 11:01, before adding another short-side tally some four minutes later.

But the Flames kept rolling, getting the tying tally from Lindholm, who extended his seven-game scoring run by tipping a Oliver Kylington point shot with two seconds left in the opening frame for his 10th of the season.

Moments earlier, Lindholm had intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and come in and wired a shot that beat Samsonov but clanged off the far post. 

Tweet from @NHLFlames: Elias Viktor Zebulon Lindholm.#CGYvsWSH | #Flames


There was tons of chances in the second, Talbot coming up huge on two of them from Alexander Ovechkin.

First he slammed the pads shut to deny Alex the Gr8 on a partial breakaway, then later he denied a massive slapshot from Ovechkin who was parked in his office at the faceoff circle and one-timed a cross-ice feed.


Video: CGY@WSH: Talbot stymies Ovechkin's breakaway bid


Later after a frenzied possession by the Flames in the Caps zone where they got off a handful of shots, Vrana got behind the defence on a breakway, Talbot making the first stop but Vrana able to smack hom the rebound to give the homeside the lead again.

Washington had a slim 23-19 lead in shots after 40 minutes.

It was a tough start to the final frame, Backlund sent to the box for a trip on Nicklas Backstrom just 55 seconds in.

The Flames were aggresive in the PK, but Lars Eller managed to put a puck up-and-over Talbot's shoulder short-side at the 2:20 mark to round out the scoring.




"I thought we had good jump. If anything, the plays that cost us tonight was because we were over-aggressive a little bit ... trying to hold lines and making reads to stay in their zone. They got some looks out of that. I thought our jump was good, I thought the effort was obviously there but we couldn't just couldn't find ways to pucks in the net."


"I mean, a tough trip. A lot of tough buildings to come into and play. The outdoor game's a different atmosphere, so, you know, we know we have a lot to work on but now we have a chance to take care of business at home and improve our record."


"The effort was definitely there. I think after a road trip like this, maybe fatigue sets in a little bit after a hard-fought game again last night. But I thought we did a pretty good job of managing the game, and like I said just an extra save away from maybe coming back and tying that one."


"Ya, that will be nice. We gotta make the 'Dome a tough building to come in and play and I think we've done a pretty good job of that so far, so it will be nice to be home in front of our fans and hopefully get some big wins before we head out back on the road."


"We got a caught a little bit, they got guys in behind us, obviously, on the Vrana goal, couple other times they got guys in behind us when we didn't get it deep. So, probably clean up a little attention to details, small things, you don't get a puck deep when you're changing and all of a sudden guys are confident you're going to get it in and when you don't, you put yourself in harms way."


Video: "We needed that kill"



"I though we were good, I thought we started on time, I thought we had all four lines going there, thought it was a huge goal by Lindy at the end of the first and we were in good shape right there."


"We're getting closer."



Milan Lucic was suspened two games earlier Sunday, Tobias Rieder drawing into the lineup in his place (see video below for GM Brad Treliving's comments on the NHL's decision) ... The Caps held a pre-game ceremony to honour the World Series champion Nationals (nee Expos). The two teams gathered together for a pre-game picture, with the announcer refering to D.C. by its new so-called title 'District of Champions' ... This is the second and final matchup this season between the Flames and Caps. Washington won the first meeting 5-3 on Oct. 22 at the 'Dome ... The Flames now have a record of 4-3-0 against Eastern Conference opponents ... This game capped off Calgary's third back-to-back of the season, winning 3-0 last night in C-Bus before tonight's game. Calgary was 9-1-0 in their first game of a back-to-back last season and 5-5-0 in the second game of the scenario. The Flames next back-to-back situation following this one sees them in Arizona on Nov. 16 and Vegas on Nov. 17 ... Quick trip in the Way-Back Machine: Sean Monahan's first career NHL game came against the Caps (on Oct. 3, 2013), where he notched his first career point (assist) ... Caps GM Brian MacLellan was a member of the Flames 1989 Stanley Cup winning team. He played for the club from 1989 to 1991, skating in 134 games and notching 70 points.


Video: Treliving meets with media on Lucic suspension



Here was the forward lines and D-pairings to start last night's game (starters in bold).


Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Elias Lindholm

Andrew Mangiapane - Mikael Backlund - Matthew Tkachuk

Alan Quine - Derek Ryan - Sam Bennett

Tobias Rieder - Mark Jankowski - Michael Frolik


Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie

Noah Hanifin - Travis Hamonic

Oliver Kylington - Rasmus Andersson


Cam Talbot



Finally, the Flames have come back to Calgary (everyone catch the wrestling reference - *eyebrow raised*). After a lengthy 10-day, five-game roadie that kicked off in Regina with the Heritage Classic against the Jets, the team returns to the Scotiabank Saddledome for a four-game homestand that begins Tuesday when they host the Coyotes at 7 p.m. (click here for tickets)

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