CALGARY, Alberta -- No blown lead this time for the Calgary Flames against the Washington Capitals.
Just a solid, start-to-finish 5-2 victory on Saturday night when questions were being asked whether the Flames had begun an expected fall to the basement after a difficult road trip in which they lost four of five games.
"I congratulated the boys because the first period tonight -- after coming back from the five-game road swing -- that's pretty unbelievable and very unusual. Our guys deserve lots of credit," Flames coach Bob Hartley said.
The Flames displayed the hard-working effort they're becoming known for, kept Washington superstar Alex Ovechkin in check and maintained their edge instead of allowing it to disappear.
Just like their season opener in Washington, the Flames came out of the blocks with a flurry and chased starting goalie Braden Holtby to the bench in favor of Michal Neuvirth before the first period was over. The Capitals erased a three-goal deficit for a 5-4 shootout win on Oct. 3, but that script was not followed this time because of solid goaltending by Calgary's Karri Ramo and a gritty effort throughout the lineup.
"We needed to get back to the basics. That's why we were successful earlier," Flames defenseman Kris Russell said. "We're not a team that can rely on one line to score every night. We need every guy going. We did a better job tonight of coming in waves. Every shift, we kinda had momentum, or if we lost it, the next shift had the task of getting it back, and I thought we did a really good job of that."
Russell scored just 64 seconds into the game and Jiri Hudler doubled the lead just past the seven-minute mark to get the sold-out Scotiabank Saddledome crowd of 19,289 rocking.
And when Michael Cammalleri deflected Dennis Wideman's point shot 48 seconds after Jason Chimera put the Capitals on the scoreboard, hopes were high that the Flames were back to the form they showed during the first two weeks of the season.
"Calgary was prepared to play the game and we weren't. That's why we lost the game," said Holtby, who couldn't be faulted on any goals he surrendered. "We haven't been addressing our starts as a group because we've been masking them with winning a few games. Tonight, it cost us."
Aaron Volpatti scored to make it 3-2 game before the midway point, but third-period goals by Cammalleri and Curtis Glencross quashed any comeback hopes.
Ramo stopped 27 shots for the Flames, who held Ovechkin without a point.
"When he did get the shot through, Karri was there to make a big save. He had a couple of point-blankers there from his spot where, normally, that's a goal," said Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman, who posted a plus-five rating against his former team.
"I think everybody has seen him score a few from there."
Ovechkin said, "Our line has to be better. In this situation, we have to step up and set the tone for the whole team. Of course everybody's trying, but after we made it 3-2, we've got to push and we didn't."
NOTES: The Flames placed D Mark Giordano on injured reserve retroactive to Oct. 21. That means the team's captain is eligible to return to the lineup as soon as Wednesday for a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Giordano has missed three games already with a lower-body injury. D Derek Smith was summoned from the minors and suited up for his first NHL game of the season. ... The Flames also were without RW Lee Stempniak, who suffered a lower-body injury. Stempniak had collected at least one point in nine of the team's first 10 games. With Stempniak out of action, LW Sven Baertschi was inserted into the lineup after being a healthy scratch the previous game in Dallas. ... With his first-period goal, Chimera posted his 100th point with the Capitals. ... Caps D Karl Alzner, who played junior hockey in Calgary for the Western Hockey League's Hitmen, purchased 20 tickets for friends and family and had a 32-member cheering section at the Saddledome. Alzner has arranged for a suite and tickets for 24 friends and family when the team plays in Vancouver, his hometown, next on the trip. "I'm paying to play (these games), but it's worth it, though," he said.