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game recap

Copley gets first NHL win, Capitals top Flames in shootout

Makes 27 saves to hand Calgary third straight loss

by Aaron Vickers / Correspondent

CALGARY -- Pheonix Copley made 27 saves for his first NHL win when the Washington Capitals defeated the Calgary Flames 4-3 in a shootout at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday.

Jakub Vrana, T.J. Oshie and Matt Niskanen scored, and Evgeny Kuznetsov had two assists for the Capitals (5-3-2), who won two of three games on their Western Canada trip.

"Obviously your first win means a lot. It feels good," said the 26-year-old Copley, who has played 145 American Hockey League games and five games in the NHL since 2014-15. "A win's a win. I'm just happy for the win and happy we won as a team."


[WATCH: All Capitals vs. Flames highlights]


Nicklas Backstrom scored the deciding goal in the shootout when he shot over the glove of Mike Smith.

"I was going to go low blocker but I don't know, he was doing some weird stuff with his blocker," Backstrom said. "I found an open spot there over the glove."

Travis Hamonic, Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk scored, and Johnny Gaudreau had two assists for the Flames (5-5-1), who have lost three straight and have one win in their past five games (1-3-1). Smith made 24 saves.

Video: WSH@CGY: Backstrom beats Smith, wins shootout

"I thought the guys did a great job to not only work hard and play a good team, but play the right way most of the game," said Smith, who allowed six goals on 21 shots before being pulled in the second period of a 9-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. "If you do that you have a chance to win hockey games. We had a chance to win tonight and that's the way we want to play."

With Smith pulled for the extra attacker, Tkachuk tied the game 3-3 at 18:33 of the third period when he tipped Rasmus Andersson's point shot over Copley.

"It's just business as usual," Copley said. "Those kinds of things happen. It's a game and it's unpredictable at times. Everyone stayed even-keel. We knew that there was still a big opportunity to win. Everyone just stayed calm."

Copley stopped Tkachuk's tip with 26 seconds remaining in the third period and made consecutive pad saves on Sean Monahan in the final seconds of overtime. He also stopped three of four attempts in the shootout.

"It's fun to see him getting his first win here," Backstrom said. "It was nice to get this one to him and get this off his back."

Vrana scored on a pass from Kuznetsov on a 2-on-0 break after a turnover inside Calgary's blue line to put Washington up 1-0 at 9:28 of the first period, and Oshie scored on the power play on an Alex Ovechkin rebound to make it 2-0 at 14:27.

Video: WSH@CGY: Vrana puts the Capitals up 1-0 in the 1st

Hamonic, playing his second game since missing eight because of a facial fracture, made it 1-1 at 14:42. It was his first goal in 71 games dating to Oct. 14, 2017.

Lindholm scored on the power play after taking a pass from Gaudreau for his Flames-leading seventh goal to tie the game 2-2 at 16:54. It was Gaudreau's second assist and his 200th in the NHL.

Niskanen scored to give Washington a 3-2 lead at 17:03 of the second period.

Video: WSH@CGY: Tkachuk tips one home for the late equalizer


They said it

"Good effort by the guys tonight. It was a tight-checking game. We gave up fewer quality chances tonight. Little tighter checking and we played with the lead smart. They tied it with the goalie pulled. Sometimes that happens. Great for [Copley] to keep battling and keep a positive attitude. He made some nice saves in the shootout for the win. He deserves it." -- Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen

Video: WSH@CGY: Niskanen snipes the go-ahead goal


"There are a lot of things we can still do to get better … get to the net a little bit more, a little more zone time and more second-effort chances maybe. But all in all, it was much better. On any given night, if we're playing another team, maybe we get the two points there." -- Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk


Need to know

Ovechkin (assist) has nine points (four goals, five assists) in his past six games. … Kuznetsov has eight points (two goals, six assists) in his past six games. … Gaudreau has seven points (four goals, three assists) in his past seven games.


What's next

Capitals: At the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN2, RDS, NBCSWA, NHL.TV).

Flames: At the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVAS, NHL.TV).

Video: Capitals down Flames in SO for Copley's first NHL win

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