After stumbling out the gates in their season opener, the Washington Capitals looked to rebound three days later against the Calgary Flames. But for the second-straight game, the home team got off to a poor start and found themselves on the verge of another blowout loss.
If not for goalie Darcy Kuemper, the competitive portion of the evening would have once again come and gone before the Capitals ever got started — with Calgary outshooting the Caps 15-1 to start the game while building a 2-0 lead. Kuemper, who missed the Pittsburgh game for the birth of his son, stopped 38 of 40 shots on the night. He also saved a penalty shot during regulation and all three attempts during the shootout. Again, he was stellar while earning his first win as a father.
Center Evgeny Kuznetsov, utilizing his methodically slow method known as the “Kuzy Crawl,” scored the only goal of the shootout to complete the comeback. Washington also received a strong showing from 25-year-old forward Matthew Phillips, who scored his first NHL goal and picked up an assist against his former club. And, on a night of so many “firsts,” Capitals’ coach Spencer Carbery also secured his first win as an NHL head coach.
Sadly, the franchise’s home sellout streak came to an end at 588 consecutive games. While the Capitals remain the best ticket in town, after missing the postseason for the first time in nine years and with ticket prices continuing to rise, Capital One Arena is no longer guaranteed to be sold out every time the home team takes to the ice. A sad, but not completely surprising, scenario for a team much closer to the end of than the beginning of an era.