Alex Ovechkin's impressive scoring binge and a solid start to their current road trip have helped the Washington Capitals put their early-season struggles behind them.
With 10 goals in his first 10 games, Ovechkin will try to keep up his torrid pace Saturday night against the Calgary Flames, who have had a hard time containing the three-time MVP.
After winning just two of its first seven contests, Washington (5-5-0) rides a three-game win streak into the Scotiabank Saddledome and is 2-0 on its current five-game trip.
"We're on a long 10-day (trip). For us, we just want to hunker down and win hockey games. We want to do little things to make us better. On the road, you get a chance to jell with each other," forward Joel Ward said.
Ovechkin opened the scoring in a 4-1 win over Edmonton on Thursday before recording his fifth assist of the season on Nicklas Backstrom's goal early in the third period.
The high-scoring Russian's first-period goal put him in double digits faster than in any of his previous eight seasons. It also gave him 32 goals in his last 31 regular-season games dating to March 17.
Ovechkin scored his 10th and 11th goals in his 11th game of 2009-10 and tallied 14 in his first 13 contests on the way to his fourth 50-goal season. He would appear to have a good chance to match or surpass his pace from that season, given his recent efforts against Calgary.
Ovechkin has eight goals and seven assists in seven career meetings with the Flames. He scored twice and added an assist in a 5-4 shootout win Oct. 3 in Washington.
The Flames (4-4-2) blew an early 3-0 lead in their third straight loss to the Capitals and head into this game following a 1-4-0 road swing that ended with Thursday's 5-1 loss at Dallas.
"We're not quitters over here but it's a results-oriented business and it was a terrible road trip," forward T.J. Gagliardi said.
The Flames were outscored 20-11 on their trip after allowing a combined four goals in back-to-back home wins. Calgary is 2-0-1 at the Saddledome this season.
"We need to be better defensively. That's our challenge, to read the game and communicate the game in a better way," coach Bob Hartley said. "Those five games show us we have a lot to learn. We can't be happy with this. We have to bounce back."
Washington is making its first visit to Calgary since a 7-2 rout on Oct. 30, 2010. Ovechkin had two goals and an assist in that game, while Backstrom had a goal and three assists.
Backstrom has nine points (two goals, seven assists) in his last three matchups with the Flames. He had a goal and an assist in the Caps' home win earlier this month.
Calgary's goaltenders, meanwhile, have struggled in their careers against Washington. Karri Ramo, who was in net for the shootout loss in the season opener, is 0-3-2 with a 3.30 goals-against average in six matchups and Joey MacDonald is 0-2-1 with a 4.25 GAA in three meetings.
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- Washington Capitals
- Calgary Flames
- Alex Ovechkin
- Nicklas Backstrom