Game Over: Takeaways From Flames’ 5-2 Win Over Capitals
The Calgary Flames got two goals from Andrew Mangiapane and scored a 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals.
It was ’90s night for the Calgary Flames and they turned the clock back at least a year while wearing their reverse retro pedestal jerseys.
With goals from Andrew Mangiapane (two), Blake Coleman, Adam Ruzicka and Elias Lindholm, the Flames bounced back from a loss to the Montreal Canadiens by beating the Washington Capitals 5-2 on Saturday night. They looked a lot more like the team that won the Pacific Division last season than the one consistently flirting with .500 through the first quarter of this year.
They didn’t give up much, either, allowing just a pair of goals — one with the Caps on a powerplay and another with the goaltender pulled.
Don’t let the score fool you. It was a one-goal game until Ruzicka and Mangiapane scored less than a minute apart in the third period. Possession was fairly equal, too. But it was a safe and complete effort from the Flames, who got contributions from their top three lines.
It showed some killer instinct, too.
“Good solid game. Real close game,” said Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter. “Really good third period by our club.”
They’ll continue their five-game homestand on Monday against the Arizona Coyotes.
Let’s get to the takeaways:
Silent Night for Capitals’ Ovechkin
All eyes were on Ovie given his quest for 800 NHL goals, but he was barely noticeable out there on the night. The Flames took advantage of home ice matchups and made things difficult for the world’s deadliest goal-scoring winger. He was kept off the scoresheet for just the 10th time this season. The Flames limited him to just a single shot on goal.
Nikita Zadorov made a physical statement
It’s crazy to think how much progress Zadorov has made with the Calgary Flames this year. He looks like a different player, making smart decisions and timely physical plays. He dropped a couple of bombs on Washington Capitals players on Saturday and continued to make his presence felt — and feared.
Zadorov has been fun to watch.
Andrew Mangiapane looks like he’s headed for one of those scoring streaks
Mangiapane’s first multi-goal game since April 19 last season was a positive sign. He’s been playing much better the last week or so but now he’s being rewarded on the scoresheet, too. That’s three goals and four points in his last three games.
Not that he celebrates with much enthusiasm. Then again, he scored 35 last year so he’s been there before. Fans are hoping he can get close to doing that again — the team needs more from the 26-year-old who cashed in with a three-year, $17.4-million deal this summer.
Mikael Backlund was dominant, and people might even have noticed
His linemates scored the goals but Backlund was the team’s best centre on the night. Probably their best player. He missed out on an early breakaway opportunity of his own but was happy to and dominated Early breakaway, assists including an airborne touch pass that sprung Ruzicka for the winning goal in the third period, putting the Flames up 3-1. Backlund controlled the puck confidently when he was on the ice, and finished with three assists.
“I would say that five-on-five we were a better team tonight,” said Sutter.
Dan Vladar sure looks like a starter right now
Vladar had another strong night with his fourth start in six games for the Flames, winning consecutive starts for the first time this season. The backup has posted fantastic numbers since losing to the Seattle Kraken on Nov. 1, with five straight games over .900 in save percentage and allowing just 10 goals against in that span.
On Saturday, he made a few big ones — most notably a darting pad save on T.J. Oshie on what could have been a game-changer.
“He was solid,” said Sutter, leery of giving the 25-year-old too much credit considering how well the team played in front of him. “First period, other than the powerplay, they probably didn’t have a lot of opportunities.”
With Jacob Markstrom’s confidence a work in progress, Vladar is expected to carry a heavier load. He looks up to the task so far.