Calgary Flames vs. Washington Capitals Pick & Prediction MARCH 18th 2024

A two-game winning streak has the Washington Capitals back in the playoff mix as they head to the finale of a five-game road trip against the host Calgary Flames on Monday.

After opening their trip with a pair of losses by a combined 10-2 score, the Capitals have claimed consecutive 2-1 victories, including Saturday’s over the Western Conference-leading Vancouver Canucks, and are within striking distance of the Detroit Red Wings, who hold the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot.

“These games, they’re meaningful hockey, playoff-type hockey for us,” said forward Tom Wilson, whose second-period goal sparked the comeback victory.

“It’s great experience for everyone in the room. We’re rallying together, we’re playing well, we’re playing for each other, and that’s what it’s all about this time of the year. If we keep playing like that, we’ll give ourselves a good chance.”

The Capitals were trade-deadline sellers but have responded with four wins in six outings while integrating more youth into their lineup.

“It’s incredible to watch young players grow,” coach Spencer Carbery said. “(Ivan Miroshnichenko) — in English — is yelling things to players on the ice. You see it as a coach, and you’re just smiling because you can feel the investment, and how bad they want to win, how they want to do the right things.”

Captain Alex Ovechkin continues his scoring assault. He tallied the winning goal in Vancouver — the 127th of his career — and has netted 11 goals in 20 games and 19 on the season.

He can become the sixth player in NHL history to reach 20 goals in 19 seasons, and just the third to reach that mark in 19 consecutive seasons, joining Gordie Howe and Brendan Shanahan.

Ovechkin is 53 goals back of Wayne Gretzky’s mark of 894 career goals.

The Flames are also riding a two-game winning streak to keep their playoff hopes alive. Calgary followed a three-game skid with a victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights and a 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

“We’re a lot more excited today than we were after that road trip and the Colorado game (Tuesday’s 6-2 loss),” said captain Mikael Backlund after a two-goal, three-point outing against Montreal. “It was tough losing those three games.

“We had some good meetings and a couple optional or non-skates between games, and guys got a little more energized. We’ve played two good games here. Now we’re taking it day by day and trying to focus on the next game and see where it takes us.”

The Flames dealt away four veteran pending unrestricted free agents over the season, three of them defensemen, and have been without number-one goaltender Jacob Markstrom due to injury the past few outings. Understandably, their defensive play has taken a hit.

But a turnaround has come thanks to young players stepping up their game and veterans such as Backlund showing much-needed leadership.

Backlund’s reward was his 200th career goal against Montreal, making him the 11th player in franchise history to reach 200 goals.

“I put in a lot of work in my life to get to the NHL, and to be able to score 200 goals is special,” he said. “Some good company here in the organization’s history.”

Rookie goalie Dustin Wolf has won Calgary’s past two games, in which he stopped 64 of 67 shots.

“I’m just trying to take advantage of every opportunity I get right now and two wins in a row was pretty crucial for our group,” Wolf said.

–Field Level Media

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