The Calgary Flames were served a reminder of why it was a good thing they only faced the Washington Capitals every two years this evening, falling 3-2 thanks to two late goals, one at the tail end of the second period, the other with less than two minutes left in regulation, by the incomparable Alexander Ovechkin. After the Capitals' Viktor Kozlov had opened the scoring just 53 seconds in, the Flames rebounded; they outshot the Capitals 17-8 the rest of the period and their hard work was rewarded in a game tying goal by Jarome Iginla, who scored on the power play with less than a minute left. In the second, Kristian Huselius scored on another power play nine minutes in to put the Flames up 2-1, a lead that stood up until 17:55 of the second when Ovechkin potted his 55th on the Caps' power play. The shot counts were reversed in the second, with the Caps outshooting the Flames 18-7. In the third, however, the Capitals showed themselves worthy. At 16:31, Owen Nolan took a high sticking penalty and Ovechkin scored the game-winning goal, a one timer from the point that Miikka Kiprusoff was screened on. The Flames mustered just two shots in the third to the Caps' eight.
This game was a clear cut case of one team's desperation defeating the other's. While the Flames are barely on top of the closest divisional race - and closest playoff race - in the NHL, the Capitals were in a must win situation, being five points out of the playoffs even after tonight's win. But the Flames' failure to push the game to overtime tonight could be a critical blow.
As I type this, the Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks are starting their game. The Northwest Division race, which has a good chance of determining the 3rd, 6th, 7th and 8th playoff seeds, was essentially between the Flames and Wild for the top spot not so long ago. Now? It's a four team race, with Calgary and Colorado tied at 82 points (the Flames being ahead due to a game in hand), Minnesota behind by 1 point and the Vancouver Canucks with a chance to take the division lead if they beat the Ducks tonight. In short, the Flames need to be more desperate than they were tonight.
Flames fans, would you agree with me if I said that tomorrow's game against the Thrashers in Atlanta was a must win?