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Washington caps furious comeback with shootout win

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals used their vaunted power play to stage a furious comeback and skate away with a 5-4 shootout victory over the Calgary Flames on Thursday night at the Verizon Center.

They did it the hard way, twice fighting back from three-goal deficits.

"If you give us a chance we're gonna score," Caps wing Alex Ovechkin said after starting the comeback with two goals. "We know we have enough skill. We just have to do what the coaches ask us to do."

Rookie defenseman Connor Carrick and Nicklas Backstrom also scored for the Capitals, who picked up their first win after a season-opening loss in Chicago.

David Jones, Lee Stempniak, Jiri Hudler and Lance Bouma scored for the Flames, who picked up a point in their season opener, but felt the sting of blowing leads of 3-0 and 4-1.

"I'm very happy with the effort, but obviously, disappointed with the result," said Flames coach Bob Hartley. "I told the boys ... 'Just don't be glad to be in the NHL. When you have a 3-0 lead you have to find a way to keep it.'"

Backstrom sent the game into overtime with his first goal of the season with 5:50 remaining in regulation, firing a pass from Grabovski through defenseman Mark Giordano and goaltender Karri Ramo.

Grabovski, who recorded a hat trick in the Caps' season opener, started the shootout with a backhander over Calgary goaltender Karri Ramo. Ovechkin followed with his own shootout goal and when Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth stopped Jiri Hudler, Washington had its first victory.

"It means a lot, especially after that slow start," Backstrom said. "We were sloppy there in the beginning. We weren't sharp, so it's always good to have a comeback like this. It's early but these points are very important."

The Caps led the NHL in power-play percentage last season and began their comeback on the man-advantage when Ovechkin scored from the left circle midway through the second period. Ovechkin made it 4-3 with his second goal of the night with 4:35 remaining in the second period, setting the stage for Backstrom's heroics in the third period.

Backstrom's power-play goal came with Calgary's T.J. Galiardi serving a goalie interference penalty.

"I came in and apologized to the boys," Galiardi said. "We still could have won the game in overtime."

The Flames got the offensive fireworks started early, getting goals from Jones, Stempniak and Hudler on their first 11 shots to chase Capitals starting goalie Braden Holtby 16:22 into the contest.

Capitals coach Adam Oates said he was concerned about Holtby's mindset after allowing five goals in Tuesday night's 6-4 loss in Chicago, but he said Holtby will start Saturday night in Dallas when the Caps return to action.

Calgary had a chance to make it 4-0 when Carrick went to the box for hooking early in the second period. But after a strong penalty kill by Washington, Marcus Johansson found Carrick leaving the penalty box and the 19-year-old defenseman deked his way around Calgary goaltender Karri Ramo for his first NHL goal.

The Flames restored their three-goal lead when Neuvirth mishandled the puck behind his net, allowing Brian McGrattan to find Lance Bouma for his second career goal.

That is when Ovechkin and the Caps began their comeback.

A high-sticking penalty to Jones put the Capitals' vaunted power play on the ice and Ovechkin wasted little time making the Flames pay, drilling a Mike Green pass off the stick of Flames captain Mark Giordano and past Ramo, drawing the Capitals to within 4-2 with 9:36 remaining in the second period.

Four minutes later, Ovechkin was celebrating again, this time after roofing a shot over Ramo for his second goal of the game and third of the season.

The Flames had several opportunities to extend the lead in the third period, but wasted three power plays, including a 5-on-3 advantage for 48 seconds.

NOTES: Capitals D Jack Hillen left the game 8:01 into the first period after Flames LW Lance Bouma drilled him with a big check into the boards. Hillen was helped off the ice and did not return. He was taken to a hospital after the game but his condition was not immediately known ... Before the game, the Flames placed C Mike Cammalleri (hand) on injured reserve. Calgary rookie C Sean Monahan, selected sixth overall in the 2013 draft, made his NHL debut. ... The Caps and Flames faced each other for the first time since Jan. 3, 2012. Only five of the current Flames played in that game. Capitals top-line C Backtrom suffered a concussion in that game on an open-ice hit from former Flames F Rene Bourque. ... Before the game, the Capitals claimed D Alex Urbom off waivers from the New Jersey Devils. To make room for him, Washington sent rookie C Michael Latta to the AHL Hershey Bears. ... The Capitals return to action Saturday night in Dallas when they take on the Stars. The Flames visit the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday before returning to Calgary for their home opener Sunday against the Vancouver Canucks.
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