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Caps seeking more scoring chances in home tilt with Flames

Both the host Washington Capitals and Calgary Flames will be looking to bounce back from disappointing defeats when they meet on Monday.

Both clubs are coming off one-sided losses to the Pittsburgh Penguins. For the Capitals, it was a 4-0 setback in their home opener on Friday, while the Flames dropped a 5-2 affair in Pittsburgh on Saturday.

“We shot ourselves in the foot with our execution and puck management,” Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom said.

Washington managed just 19 shots on goal on a night coach Spencer Carbery said his team failed to give that extra push for Grade A scoring opportunities.

“You can have as much sustained O-zone time as you want, but unless you’re threatening and in attack mode at the appropriate times, there’s teams in the league that like to sit there and let you do what you want on the perimeter,” Carbery said.

Washington will make one important roster change. No. 1 goaltender Darcy Kuemper missed the season opener for the birth of his son but is set to take the net.

Kuemper was at the ready to play against Pittsburgh and is now boosted with the joy of becoming a father for the first time on top of being at the ready with a solid offseason.

“It was nice to come in feeling explosive, strong, feeling like you’re ready to play a bunch of games at the best of your abilities,” Kuemper said. “Game 1 didn’t go the way we wanted to, but it’s a long season and we feel confident.”

The Flames, who opened the campaign with a 5-3 home-ice win over the Winnipeg Jets, held a 1-0 lead going into the third period of Saturday’s loss to the Penguins. Instead of building on that edge, the Flames watched the game fall away upon surrendering a pair of goals in the first minute of the final frame and never recovered.

“The hard part is we had a good first two periods, played a good solid road game to start. You let momentum get away from you,” coach Ryan Huska said. “Whether we let it get away or we kind of gave it to them, however you want to put it, it happened.”

The Washington tilt is the second of a five-game road trip for Calgary.

Although the night ended in disappointment, there was a huge positive for the Flames. Rookie right wing Matt Coronato — the 13th pick in the 2021 draft — scored his first NHL goal. He drilled a top-shelf one-timer from deep in the left faceoff circle for the milestone marker.

“I think it’s kind of hard to think about it the way we came out and played in the third,” Coronato said. “I think we just didn’t do a great job managing pucks. Couple, maybe, mental mistakes that we’ll definitely clean up. It’s important stuff. We’ll have to get better.”

With time, Coronato will appreciate the moment more. The goal was a big league-caliber tally, and not just because of the rapid release and accuracy.

“He actually made a smart play on that,” Huska said. “He found the quiet ice there. He got himself open and that’s the mark of a goal scorer, for sure.”

–Field Level Media

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