CALGARY - Joel Ward scored twice ? including the game-winner ? to lead the Washington Capitals to a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Saturday.
Ward's second of the night 5:31 into the second period broke a 1-1 tie and gave the Capitals a lead they would not relinquish.
The goal was set up by rookie Michael Latta, who carried the puck in deep before centring it to the front of the net where Ward, at the far goal post, was able to backhand it behind Karri Ramo.
Reunited with coach Barry Trotz, who he had in Nashville for his first three NHL seasons, Ward is off to a terrific start with four goals ? just one back of Alex Ovechkin's team-leading five. Ward is coming off his best NHL season when he had a career-high 24 goals and 49 points last year.
Nicklas Backstrom also scored for Washington (4-1-2), which has split the opening two games of its three-game road swing through Western Canada. The Capitals wrap up the trip Sunday night in Vancouver with a game against the Canucks.
Dennis Wideman had the lone goal for Calgary (5-4-1), which entered the game on a hot streak with points in its last three games and a 4-1-1 record in its previous six.
Ahead 2-1 after 40 minutes, the Capitals got themselves some breathing room 41 seconds in when Backstrom used Calgary defenceman Kris Russell as a screen and whipped a 40-foot wrist shot past Ramo.
The Capitals move to within two points of the New York Islanders, who lead the Metropolitan division. Washington has a game in hand.
Wideman is off to a terrific start offensively for the Flames.
After scoring only four goals last season, the veteran has five already this season to lead all NHL defenceman. That includes goals in four straight games, which is a career high.
Down 1-0, Wideman tied the game up for Calgary with 10 seconds left in the first period.
The defenceman made a nice fake at the blue-line to shake off Jay Beagle and then put a shot on net that went through a crowd and eluded Braden Holtby.
It was a power-play goal for the Flames, the result of a roughing penalty to Troy Brouwer, who after having Matt Stajan pinned near the Capitals bench, gave him a couple of pops in the back of the helmet.
The goal continues a trend for Calgary, which has seen their offence being carried most of the year by their defence.
In addition to Wideman, TJ Brodie has three goals and in total, the Flames have nine goals from defenceman. That's 36 per cent of their total goals, which is the most of all NHL teams.
It was a much better night for Holtby then he experienced against Calgary last season when in two starts, he gave up six goals on 25 shots and was pulled in the first period of each game.
Holtby had 20 saves to improve to 3-1-1.
One of his best stops came against Mikael Backlund in the second period with the Caps leading by a goal. Backlund was set up at the top of the goal crease by Mason Raymond but could not get the puck over Holtby.
Holtby also made a sharp blocker save off Paul Byron on breakaway halfway through the third period.
Ramo, the busier of the two goalies, had 27 stops to fall to 2-2-1.
Washington struck first at 11:17 of the first period taking advantage of a mistake from Deryk Engelland, who with control of the puck in his own end fanned on a pass.
As the puck trickled off his stick, it was promptly reeled in by Ward, who was pressing on the forecheck. The Capitals winger stepped into the middle of the ice and snapped a shot past Ramo from 30-feet out.
Notes: The NHL record for consecutive games with a goal by a defenceman is eight. It is held by Washington's Mike Green, who did it Jan. 27 to Feb. 14, 2009... Other than the change in net, the Flames iced the same line-up for a third straight game ??? meaning Brian McGrattan, Devin Setoguchi and Raphael Diaz were healthy scratches... Ovechkin played in career game No. 686, moving him past Kevin Hatcher into 9th on the Capitals all-time list... Wideman's goal was his 300th career point.