Playing in their first matinee game of the season, the Calgary Flames faced off against the Washington Capitals with the puck dropping shortly after 11 am MDT. Over the past few seasons, the Flames have shown that early start times completely throw off their rhythm, and the team was looking to turn their fortune and build on the momentum they gained in their first victory of the season.
All eyes were on the Flames in the first period, as their starting play would inevitably set the tone for the game. To the surprise of pretty much everyone—even both the Flames and Capitals—Calgary got off to an exceptional start. The first twenty minutes saw the Flames score a power play goal, event strength goal, and shorthanded goal for a 3–0 lead. The Capitals were entering their fifth game, none of which included a single second of them trailing, so the Flames broke the barrier wide open.
Andrew Mangiapane and the second power play unit started for the first half of the Flames first power play after the first unit had just been on the ice. However, the first unit got more rest as Mangipane opened up the scoring. Being in the right place at the right time, he picked up a rebound in front of Capitals goaltender Vitek Vanecek and neatly put it past for a 1–0 Flames lead.
About a minute and a half later, as the period passed the midway mark, Elias Lindholm scored after being camped in the near circle waiting for a pass from Johnny Gaudreau from down low. Lindholm got it and that type of shot is exactly in his wheelhouse as he scored top shelf through some traffic.
Towards the end of the period, the Flames were shorthanded, but Lindholm put forth an enormous individual effort to outclass John Carlson one-on-one. With both players chasing the puck into the Capitals’ zone, Lindholm had a well-timed push off of Carlson that spun the defender around, allowing Lindholm to take control of the puck with no one defending him. A fake shot and a deke later and Lindholm lured Vanecek down to the ground to have a wide open net to shoot at for his second of the game.
In the second period, the Capitals surged back as expected for any team down 3–0 at home. Washington made a goalie change and put Ilya Samsonov into the game. The Capitals are as an opportunistic team as any, and they made the most out of the second period.
They opened the middle frame with a shorthanded goal themselves less than three minutes in, courtesy of Evgeny Kuznetsov. Gaudreau was looking for a pass in his own zone that was caught by Kuznetsov and his resultant shot trickled past Daniel Vladar to put Washington on the board.
Shortly after, 22-year-old Capitals rookie Martin Fehervary added to the Capitals’ comeback. He found an opening with the near circle all to himself and got off a shot that beat Vladar cleanly under his blocker.
With under two minutes to go in the second, no other than Alex Ovechkin tied the game up at 3–3 apiece. In a quick transition into the Flames’ zone, Ovechkin opted to hold onto the puck and shoot and he made no mistake.
Whatever the Flames had going right for them in the first, the Capitals enjoyed for themselves in the second. However, despite the seeming collapse by the Flames to let a 3–0 lead vanish, the second period wasn’t quite as lopsided as the first.
With the third period starting with the teams knotted up, both Calgary and Washington saw swings of momentum going in each team’s favour throughout the period. Calgary responded quite well in the third period and in fact mounted the better offence between the two teams, but both Vladar and Samsonov were standing tall for their teams.
In seasons past, letting in three goals in the second period might have broke this Flames roster, but they were resilient in the final frame and didn’t let the circumstances negatively affect them. The final frame didn’t solve anything and the game went into overtime.
Overtime saw some back and forth action with high suspense on both ends of the ice. As extra time progressed, both teams were seeing chances and both goaltenders were up to the task.
With just over two minutes remaining, the Flames put the game away. Vladar had the puck in his crease, and as he was pressured by Kuznetsov, he found Lindholm open for the pass off the bench. Lindholm and Gaudreau skated into the Capitals’ zone and a passing play between the two ended with Lindholm scoring. He’d earn his second career hat trick while Gaudreau picked up his 500th career point on the same play.
The Flames prevent the Capitals from fully coming back and win the matinee game, 4–3 Calgary in overtime, final score. Check out the game visualisations below!
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