The Calgary Flames haven’t had trouble starting games strongly, but finishing has been their weakness lately.
The Washington Capitals’ problem is the exact opposite.
The Flames and Capitals meet Saturday night in Calgary with each team hoping to put together a complete effort after losing its previous game.
Calgary (6-4-0) had its three-game winning streak snapped Thursday against Colorado, blowing a 3-1 second-period lead and losing 6-5. The Flames had won their previous 12 games when scoring five or more goals, last losing 6-5 in overtime at Chicago on Oct. 12, 2009.
It was also the first time all season that the Flames were outshot. The Avalanche had more attempts on net in each period, including a 15-3 edge in the third.
“Our best players - outside of Olli - weren’t very good, bottom line,” coach Brent Sutter said. “You give up six goals in the NHL, you’re not going to win very many games. When you’ve got a 3-1 lead in your own building with that much time left, you nail it down. Good teams, that’s what they do.”
Rookie goalie Henrik Karlsson(notes) struggled in his second NHL start, but Miikka Kiprusoff(notes) will likely be back in net against Washington. Kiprusoff has won four of his last five starts overall and his past two against the Capitals.
He picked up a 5-4 shootout victory Tuesday against Edmonton, although the Flames squandered a 4-1 lead in that game.
While the Flames have scored the first goal in six consecutive games, the Capitals (6-4-0) have accomplished the feat three times in 10 contests.
“We’re just maybe not ready to play off the bat too good,” Washington winger Jason Chimera(notes) said. “You’ve got to be ready in this league. You can’t wade into games, you’ve got to dictate the pace. When we get up, it’s hard to contain us, that’s for sure. So we’ve just got to work on our first periods and our starts.”
Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said the Capitals appeared to be “playing in quicksand” for the first period of their 2-1 loss at Minnesota on Thursday. Washington put a season-low 22 shots on net and Alex Ovechkin(notes) scored the lone goal with 1:36 remaining - his first goal in six games.
“It was a really disappointing effort, I thought, from our team for about 50 minutes,” Boudreau said. “You can’t play 10 minutes in this league and hope to win a game. I thought it was very disappointing.”
Ovechkin said the Capitals appeared sluggish in part because they played the previous night at Carolina, beating the Hurricanes 3-0.
“I’m not buying any of this excuse about being fatigued, emotionally or physically,” Boudreau said. “So I’m just not very happy with what happened.”
Washington has lost three of five, scoring only one goal in each defeat during that stretch. The Capitals were the NHL’s highest-scoring team last season, but they’ve scored four goals or more twice this fall.
Although Ovechkin has three goals and four assists in four career games against the Flames, Calgary has won the last two meetings, including a 5-3 road victory March 28.
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