Capitals

Flames-Red Wings Preview

Flames-Red Wings Preview

The Calgary Flames insist they are a better team than their record indicates.

They can prove it by ending their recent road struggles and prevent the Detroit Red Wings from notching a fourth consecutive home victory Tuesday night.

Calgary (1-3-2) took a 2-1 lead over Chicago on Jay Bouwmeester's goal with 35 seconds left Saturday before the Blackhawks tied it with 2.3 seconds to go, then handed the Flames at 3-2 shootout loss.

Despite an NHL-low four points and losses in both shootout appearances, the Flames remain positive.

"We've said it all along that we're a better team," said forward Alex Tanguay, the team points leader with three goals and three assists. "For some reason, when you don't win you find ways to lose, and certainly that was one of those cases."

Calgary had a season-high 47 shots, including 24 in its two-goal third period, and limited the Blackhawks to six shots in each period of regulation.

"I see many positive signs all over our game, and it's just a matter of collecting a couple of wins and growing a little confidence," coach Bob Hartley said. "If we play every game like we played (Saturday), we're going to turn our season around, that's for sure."

Hartley remains optimistic even though the Flames are allowing 4.0 goals per contest and have one victory while playing five of six at home. They must try to get on track with the next three games coming on the road, where they're in the midst of an 0-2-4 stretch going back to last season.

Calgary, which last went winless in seven straight road games Jan. 26-Feb. 22, 2007, has dropped seven of nine overall against the Red Wings (4-3-1) and three of four at Detroit.

Star winger Jarome Iginla has yet to record a goal in 2013, but he has five with two assists in Calgary's last three visits to Detroit.

Flames forward Jiri Hudler has two goals and three assists in three games after missing the first three contests while on bereavement leave. The veteran now makes his return to Detroit, where he spent his first seven NHL seasons and posted at least 37 points in each of the last four before signing a four-year deal with Calgary over the summer.

The Red Wings have totaled 14 goals, including five on 19 power-play chances, during a three-game winning streak at Joe Louis Arena that followed a 2-1 home-opening loss to Dallas on Jan. 22. However, they are looking to rebound after Saturday's 4-2 defeat at Columbus.

Detroit has been outscored 15-7 in four road games (1-2-1), going 0 for 22 on the power play.

Rookie Damien Brunner scored his fourth goal in six games Saturday and Johan Franzen added his second, but the Red Wings allowed more than three goals for the first time since a season-opening 6-0 loss at St. Louis.

"They had more energy, they played better and they got better and better as the game went on, and we got worse and worse," said coach Mike Babcock, whose team was coming off a 5-3 win over the Blues a night earlier.

Jimmy Howard had his worst performance since the season opener but has a 2.35 goals-against average while winning seven of eight against the Flames. The lone defeat during that span came at home, 4-1 on Nov. 3, 2011.

While Detroit could be without injured defenseman Brendan Smith (shoulder), it might get some help along the blue line if former Flame Ian White returns after missing the last five games with a leg injury.

Two of White's seven goals last season came against Calgary.

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3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Lightning

3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Lightning

After a rough start, the Caps battled back to make a game of it against Tampa Bay, but ultimately fell 4-2 to the Lightning. Here's why.

The first period

To put it simply, this game was lost in the opening period. Washington was the better team for the second and third but they could not overcome the 3-0 lead they spotted the Lightning in the first. Beyond the goals, the Caps just did not play well. Even the simplest of plays looked difficult as Washington struggled to get the puck out of their own zone, gave up numerous turnovers and scoring chances and just looked overmatched. Braden Holtby also looked shaky allowing three goals on just eight shots. Usually he is able to cover up some of the mistakes the defense makes it front of him, but he was not there to bail the team out on Tuesday in what was a really rocky start.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS FROM CAPS-LIGHTNING

Taking a penalty 34 seconds into the game

Entering Tuesday’s game, Tampa Bay boasted the second best power play unit in the league. Playing a disciplined game is part of every game plan, but that is especially true against such a dominant unit. Giving up a penalty just 34 seconds into the game was not an ideal start. The call itself was debatable. Brett Connolly was called for interference when he knocked over Dan Girardi in the offensive zone. The puck was just behind Girardi as he had lost control of it in his skates. The sticking point here is that Girardi no longer had possession and Connolly could have played the puck instead of the player. Most referees would probably let that go with the puck so close, but Connolly was not so lucky. Whether it was a good call or not, the Caps found themselves down a man and down a goal soon after as Brayden Point scored the power play tally.

A missed opportunity from Kuznetsov on one end, a goal for Nikita Kucherov on the other

Even after spotting the Lightning a 3-0 lead, the Caps made a game of it. Lars Eller struck on the power play in the second period and Alex Ovechkin pulled Washington to within one with about nine minutes left to play. Just over a minute later, Evgeny Kuznetsov stole the puck away from Nikita Kucherov, the frontrunner for league MVP this season, at the Tampa blue line giving the Caps a short 2-on-1. Defenseman Andrej Sustr was textbook on the play forcing Kuznetsov as far wide as he could go while still covering the passing lane and Kuznetsov elected to shoot from the faceoff dot rather than attempt the pass to T.J. Oshie.Andrei Vasilevskiy made a routine blocker save to deny what looked like a great opportunity to tie the game. As always happens in hockey, a failed opportunity on one end led to an opportunity in the other direction. Less than a minute later, Kucherov made up for his mistake by scoring a breakaway goal to put the game out of reach at 4-2.

MORE CAPITALS: KEMPNY EXCITED TO MOVE FROM LAST PLACE CHICAGO TO FIRST PLACE WASHINGTON

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3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

The first 20 minutes of Tuesday's game did not go well for Washington. The Tampa Bay Lightning scored three times in the opening frame and rode that lead all the way to the 4-2 win.

With the game heading towards a repeat of their blowout loss to Chicago, the Capitals rebounded in the second period to make a game of it as Lars Eller scored on a power play. Alex Ovechkin pulled Washington within one in the third period, but Nikita Kucherov slammed the door shut with a breakaway goal to extend the lead back to 2.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Brayden Point: Tampa Bay won this game in the first period when they took a 3-0 lead. Point scored two of those three goals. His first came only 2:30 into the game. He retreated to the blue line on the power play believing Jay Beagle would clear the puck. When Beagle turned the puck over, he recognized it and immediately crashed the net, taking a Ryan Callahan pass in the slot and shooting it through the five-hole of Braden Holtby.

On his second goal, Anton Stralman saw an opportunity on the Caps’ line change and passed the puck up to Point at the blue line. Point turned on the jets to get behind the defense and went five-hole again on Holtby to make the score 3-0.

2. Alex Ovechkin: After the first period, Washington slowly took this game over for much of the remaining 40 minutes. Ovechkin was a big part of that as he totaled an incredible 19 shot attempts for the game. Nine of those shots were on goal and he found the back of the net in the third period for career goal No. 594.

3. Tom Wilson: Through the first period, the Caps looked well on their way to a repeat of the 7-1 debacle they suffered Saturday in Chicago. They had nothing going in this game until Wilson drew a trip from Vladislav Namestnikov in the second period. Eller would score on the resulting power play giving Washington some much-needed life.

The Namestnikov penalty was the 29th drawn penalty of the season for Wilson, which moves him into a tie with Matthew Tkachuk for the most drawn penalties in the NHL.