Aaron Volpatti (center) celebrates with his teammates after scoring his first goal as a Washington Capital (photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
It was uncharacteristically warm yesterday in the Stampede City as temperatures rose up into the upper 60′s, roughly 18 degrees above the average for this time of year, but the heat was on in the Saddledome as the Caps squared off with the Calgary Flames, who were looking to avenge a shootout loss back in early October at Verizon Center. The heat may have been on, but Braden Holtby was ice cold, only stopping six of the nine shots he faced and was pulled.
Calgary scored early and often in the first period, and former St. Louis Blues defenseman Kris Russel started it all just a minute and four seconds in, roofing a shot over Braden Holtby’s shoulder for an early 1-0 lead. Former Capital Dennis Wideman’s excellent board play allowed Mike Cammalleri (remember that name people) to pass the puck to a sneaking Russel for his first of the season. Just over six minutes later, Calgary’s young guns showed fans that there’s hope for a return to glory in the not so distant future. Rookie center Shaun Monahan, the team’s first of three 1st round choices in July’s Draft was able to find Juri Huddler for his 5th of the season for a 2-0 lead. Sven Baertschi, yet another young Flames forward was credited with the secondary assist. But the Caps would seemingly roar back in the period when Jason Chimera continued his Alberta homecoming with his third goal of the season after taking a Mikhail Grabovski feed and went one-on-one with goaltender Karri Ramo. However the momentum would favor the Flames yet again. Just forty-eight seconds after Chimera cut the lead to one, Mike Cammalleri (I told you to remember that name) deflected a Dennis Wideman point shot past Holtby for a 3-1 lead, effectively ending Braden’s night.
With the team being badly outshot 17-8 in the first, and struggling in the second, the Capitals needed a spark and they got one from the most unlikely source. Yes Aaron Volpatti, the same Aaron Volpatti who was scratched for the first seven games of the season, took his hands out of the ice bucket and scored his first of the season and first in a Capitals uniform. It would also mark the first career NHL point for rookie defenseman Nate Schmidt. But that was all the offense the Caps could muster.
In the third period, the Caps actually outshot the Flames 13-7 but Cammalleri’s second of the game all but ended any thoughts of a comeback for the guys in red. Credit one of the newest Calgary Flames Joe Colborne (acquired from Toronto back in September) with the lone assist. Former Columbus Blue Jacket Curtis Glencross added insult to injury with his third of the season .
Washington falls to 5-6-0 on the season and ends their Pacific Coast road swing with a Monday night battle in Vancouver with the Canucks. The team will travel back east and take on the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday and and return home to take on the Panthers on Saturday.
OTHER GAME NOTES:
. Winger Martin Erat was the blue ribbon loser Saturday night, having been on the ice for four of the five Flames goals.
. Vancouver welcomes the Caps after returning home from St. Louis, defeating the Blues 3-2 in overtime. Ryan Kesler scored the game winner. Vancouver was 5-1-1 on their road trip.
. The Canucks are lead by their top line of the Sedin Twins and Ryan Kesler. Henrik leads the team in points (16) and assists (13) while Kesler leads the team in goals (7). Kevin Bieksa leads the team in +/- with +10.
. Jay Beagle and Alexander Urbom were scratches for the Capitals on Saturday while rookie Chris Breen and veterans Tim Jackman and Lee Stempniak were scratches for the Flames.