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(Thursday, October 3rd)
Final Score: Washington 5, Calgary 4 (SO)
Washington, DC (SportsNetwork.com) - Alex Ovechkin scored twice to lead a Washington comeback and the Capitals beat the Calgary Flames, 5-4, in a shootout Thursday night after trailing by three goals twice in their home opener.
Ovechkin and Mikhail Grabovski were both successful in the shootout and Michal Neuvirth, who replaced Braden Holtby in the first period after the Washington starting netminder gave up three goals, stopped two Calgary tries in the deciding phase.
"We talked about how we had 40 minutes to try to get it back," said Capitals coach Adam Oates. "We talked about a couple things we did wrong in the first period and not to give them another one. We wanted our D [defense] to be more involved, but not do crazy pinches and give them a free goal -- just stay focused and get it one at a time."
Nicklas Backstrom had the tying power-play goal with 5:50 left in regulation for the Capitals, who bounced back after losing 6-4 in Chicago on Tuesday.
The Flames lost their season opener for the fourth straight year despite goals from David Jones, Lee Stempniak and Jiri Hudler in the first 16:22 of the game that chased Holtby.
"Very happy with the effort, obviously disappointed with the result," said Flames coach Bob Hartley. "Just don't be glad to be in the NHL, when you have a 3-0 lead, you have to find a way to keep it."
Washington defenseman Connor Carrick, 19, scored his first NHL goal, Ovechkin also had an assist and Neuvirth made 27 saves.
Karri Ramo, in his first regular-season NHL game since April 11, 2009, gave up four goals on 39 shots for the Flames, who blew leads of 3-0 and 4-1. Lance Bouma also scored in the loss, while Mark Giordano had two assists.
Ovechkin and Grabovski both beat Ramo with dekes to their backhand in the shootout, with Neuvirth stopping Sven Baertschi and Hudler.
Backstrom's tying goal came after Calgary's T.J. Galiardi was called off for goaltender interference after knocking Neuvirth in the mask with his glove.
Ovechkin helped free the puck in the slot and Backstrom ended up with it on the low right side for a wrister that made it 4-4.
The Flames had several chances in a flurry as the final seconds of regulation ticked off, but Neuvirth kept them out of the net. Both goaltenders then made three saves in overtime.
Ovechkin's first goal, a slap shot from the left side, came on a power play at 11:24 of the second period and cut Calgary's lead to 4-2.
Three minutes later, he slipped a seeing-eye wrister through everyone after the puck came back to him on a faceoff in the right circle, pulling the Caps within one.
Earlier, Jones beat Holtby 5:18 into the game with a sharp-angle shot from the low right side. Stempniak scored at 10:13 and Hudler's power-play goal at 16:22 made it 3-0 Calgary.
Carrick, off for hooking early in the second period, scored on a breakaway after coming out of the penalty box with a deke to the right side. Bouma restored Calgary's three-goal lead just 1:35 later, however.
Capitals defenseman Jack Hillen had to be helped off the ice after being hit against the boards by Bouma in the first period and didn't return. Hillen was favoring his right leg after the leg-to-leg check, and the team said he had a lower body injury. Bouma wasn't penalized for the hit, but he and Caps winger Tom Wilson drew five-minute fighting majors after the play ... The Caps will play at Dallas on Saturday before starting a five-game homestand ... The Flames remain on the road to play Columbus on Friday. Their home opener is Sunday against Vancouver ... Ramo started Calgary's opener after 2006 Vezina winner Miikka Kiprusoff retired last month with one season left on his contract.
10/04 01:20:53 ET