Caps Burned by Flames 5-3

The Washington Capitals were given a rare opportunity Sunday
afternoon, a chance to face the Calgary Flames after their first Friday and
Saturday night off this season other than during the Olympic break. However,
they were unable to capitalize, and instead of being fresh and rested, the Caps
looked slow and tired against a playoff hungry Calgary team who outscored the
Caps 5-3.

“We didn’t have any energy,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said after the game. “It looked like we were skating on quicksand.”

Washington gave up a lot of quick goals in the first period.
The flames got their third goal in just ten minutes thanks to a giveaway by
Alex Ovechkin in the offensive zone. That led to an easy tip-in goal by Flames
defenseman Jay Bouwmeester to put Calgary up 3-0.

Jose Theodore, who got his
eighth start of 13 games since the Olympic break, was pulled in favor of Semyon
Varlamov just ten minutes into the game. Theodore has won all seven games he
has started since the break until Sunday.

“For the first time in a long time it looked like Theodore
was struggling a little bit.” Boudreau said. “He was fighting the puck, every
shot he was fighting the puck. I just didn’t think he had it today.”

The Capitals looked like they weren’t ready to play in the
first period and had just four shots on goal to show for it.

“It was kind of a tough situation,” Ovechkin said. “They’re
a team that needs points for the playoffs. We knew they’d come at us hard and
we were not ready…Still we didn’t give up. In the second and third we had more
chances.”

Washington was able to get things going in the second thanks
to back to back penalties on the Flames. Ovechkin finally found the net on a
power play three minutes into the second period. He took a pass from Mike
Knuble on the wing and buried it in the back of the goal on a snapshot to cut
the deficit 4-1. The Caps added another goal with a little over a minute to
go in the second thanks to a pass from behind the goal from Quintin Laing, who
found David Steckel crashing the net for the wrister to make the score 5-2 at
the end of the second. 

Washington rallied a bit in the third period and kept the
Flames from doing any more damage, but it wasn’t enough.

The Caps did manage to cut the lead to two four minutes into
the third thanks to a power play goal by Mathieu Perreault, who was just
recalled by the Caps today. That’s Perreault third goal on the season in just
19 games, proving he too can earn a spot in the competitive line-up. The recall came as a bit of a surprise to Perreault given
the already crowded Caps line-up, but Perreault said his goal was big.

“I know
there’s not a lot of room, but I can show that maybe next year I am ready to
play here,” said Perrault. “And maybe if they have room for me that can be something I can
prove.”

Sunday’s game opened a three-game homestand for the Caps,
who are now 27-5-4 at the Verizon Center this year. Washington will play six of
its’ final eight regular season games on home ice.

The Caps will finish the
season with the chance to reach the 30-win mark in D.C. for just the second
time in franchise history, but in order to do that Washington will have to be
more secure in goal and not give opponents so many easy opportunities.

“In the course of many games [a loss or two] is going to
happen,” Knuble said. “They had some funny goals. They got some bounces. You
just put that one behind you and live for the next day. It’s no indication of
anything. It’s just one of those games you’re probably due for. It’s probably
good for us at this point.”

With the playoffs on the horizon, expectations for
Washington are only continuing to grow. A loss here certainly won’t hurt them in
the long run, but slow starts and problems in goal will not help them in the
quest for the Stanley Cup.

The Caps will need to show up ready to play the
entire game if they want to live up to those great expectations.

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