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The Flames have taken steps in the right direction in recent games and look to continue to build on that tonight

by TORIE PETERSON @ToriePeterson /

WASHINGTON - Heading into Saturday's game, the Flames vowed to build off their third period efforts in Nashville.

Coming back from a 4-1 deficit and winning it in overtime, they knew they had to keep that momentum rolling as they headed into a weekend with back-to-back games.

They did just that in Columbus, leaving Ohio with a 3-0 victory last night.

"I thought we made more plays," head coach Bill Peters said. "I thought our D was more involved. We had some 4-on-2's, I thought we were a little more dangerous off the rush - especially through the first 40-45 minutes.

"That's the way we've got play. We've got to get our D involved and we've got make sure we're looking to make plays, not just get it out and here they come again."

Now, they have to keep that momentum rolling against the NHL's top team, the Washington Capitals.

The Capitals have gone 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and boast a 10-2-3 record through their opening 15 games of the season. They lead the league with 59 goals scored, their powerplay is operating at 25% and ranks fifth among all teams, and their penalty kill sits seventh in the NHL with an 85.7% efficiency rate.

They are, in essence, an excellent measuring stick for a Flames group who are getting into a groove as the season heads into its second month.

"We're limiting our turnovers and playing strong structurally in the defensive zone," is how Andrew Mangiapane described the team's recent play. "I think that's a key for our game. Obviously we're a skilled team offensively and goals will come so we've got to make sure we're playing smart defensively and that will help."

Through the first four games of this season-long road swing, the Flames have a 2-1-1 record and a win tonight would turn a good trip into a great journey.

"I expect a real good effort," Peters said. "I thought we got better as it went along here on the road. We've been in good spots to win games. It's been a great trip. It started off with a spectacular experience in the Heritage Classic and now lets dig in here, play the right way, and then we'll head home.

"We've taken some good steps in the right direction and now we've got to continue that here tonight."

With David Rittich starting the first four games of the trip, the Flames will turn to Cam Talbot in net tonight. The 32-year-old's last start came against the Capitals on Oct. 22 in Calgary, with Talbot turning aside 25 of the 29 shots he faced that evening.

"They're going to hit you with pretty much everything they've got," Talbot said of the Capitals. "They've got four lines that can score goals and their back-end is one of the best in the league as well. They put a lot of pucks to the net, they make a lot of plays, they've got big guys in front so for me, it's just staying patient, finding those sight lines and controlling my rebounds, not giving them second opportunities.

"It's going to take 60 minutes by our group and you can't have any lapses against this team. If we play 50 minutes, that 10 is going to kill you. It's going to take a full 60-minute effort from us - a very smart hockey game, pucks out at the blueline, pucks in at their blueline, no turnovers because that's how they kill you."

With a group with an as many offensive options and the speed that the Capitals have, setting the pace right from the first shift and staying disciplined will be absolutely crucial for success.

"The start is important," Peters emphasized. "I want to get all four lines out there, get everybody involved in the game, feel good about yourself, get pucks in deep, play in the offensive zone, build a game from there."

The Flames return to Calgary on Tuesday, Nov. 5 when they host the Arizona Coyotes at 7:00 p.m. MT. Limited tickets are available HERE.

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