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Costly mistakes haunt Flames in Game 1 loss to Ducks

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The Calgary Flames still can’t win in Anaheim. They’ll need to change that in the coming days if they are to eliminate the Ducks in the first round.

The Flames did themselves no favors in a 3-2 loss in Game 1.

— They had a 2-1 lead midway through the second period, but coughed that up after a bad line change leading to a two-on-oh Anaheim rush and a Rickard Rakell rebound goal after Brian Elliott made the first save.

— The Flames couldn’t stay out of the penalty box and that was perhaps their biggest issue. The Ducks finished the game with seven power plays, scoring on two of them. Dougie Hamilton put his team short-handed in the third period, retaliating against Ryan Getzlaf for his hard but clean hit on Mark Giordano. That specific penalty didn’t result in a Ducks goal, but it did nothing productive for any comeback attempt.

— They couldn’t convert on a 1:14 two-man advantage in the final minutes of the third period, as they searched for the tying goal. And that was with Ryan Kesler, who leads all Anaheim forwards in penalty killing time per game, in the penalty box.

Ducks goalie John Gibson wasn’t as busy as Elliott at the other end, but he made a huge stop on Johnny Gaudreau — and managed to keep the puck out on the ensuing scramble — late in the game to preserve the win.

The Flames’ losing streak in Anaheim continues.

Video: The Flames had a disastrous breakdown on this Ducks goal

The struggle in Anaheim continues for the Calgary Flames — at least for now.

Leading in the second period of Game 1 of their series versus the Ducks, the Flames were guilty of getting caught on a brutal line change, leading to a quick Kevin Bieksa stretch pass to Ryan Getzlaf for a two-on-oh rush into the Calgary zone.

That was trouble.

Getzlaf didn’t finish the play off, but Rickard Rakell did, burying the rebound after Brian Elliott made the initial save. Tie game.

The Flames, so far, have also run into penalty trouble. The Ducks have had five power plays through two periods, scoring twice to take a 3-2 lead into the third period. Calgary has had only two power plays.

 

Holtby: Justin Williams ‘doesn’t get rattled’ and that’s a difficult quality to find

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Justin Williams has been there, done that.

He’s earned the reputation of Mr. Game 7, but his point producing prowess in the playoffs goes beyond just the deciding game of a series.

At 35 years of age, he’s now up to 35 goals and 87 points in 128 career post-season games. He added to his goal total Thursday, scoring twice to help the Washington Capitals come back and defeat a spirited Toronto Maple Leafs team 3-2 in overtime.

The Capitals looked nervous in the beginning, missing on passes and falling behind by two goals before the midway point of the opening period, which is to the full credit of the young and talented Maple Leafs. But Williams and the Capitals struck on the power play less than three minutes after Toronto’s second goal and that seemed to calm the home team, which won the Presidents’ Trophy and is a Stanley Cup favorite entering this series.

“He’s been there before,” goalie Braden Holtby said of Williams to reporters.

“That helps. He’s a competitive guy. He knows when the game’s on the line. He doesn’t get rattled by certain things, where as some guys do. You don’t find that quality in a lot of guys. And that’s a big reason why he’s part of our team.”

Understandably, Capitals head coach Barry Trotz wasn’t happy with his team’s performance through the first half of the game. In speaking to reporters, he said the one thing he did notice, even as Washington struggled, was there wasn’t “any panic” on the bench.

“I think he was a pretty calming affect on our group,” said Trotz of Williams. “Even on the bench, he always says the right things.”

Rinne and the Predators shut out Blackhawks in series opener

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Road teams have, for the most part, started strong in these Stanley Cup playoffs, and the Nashville Predators continued that trend Thursday.

The Predators managed only 20 shots on goal on Corey Crawford, but left the United Center with a 1-0 victory to take the series lead over the best team in the West this season.

Viktor Arvidsson scored the only goal of this game — all the way back before the eight-minute mark of the first period.

The Predators made things interesting in the final minute, with Crawford pulled for the extra attacker, by first passing up an opportunity to shoot for an open net, and then later icing the puck going for the open net to set up a faceoff in the Nashville zone.

Nothing resulted from those missed chances.

One goal was all the support Pekka Rinne would need. He turned away all 29 shots he faced to back the Predators to the shut out.

Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane had some dangerous moments, combining for 10 shots on goal, but they couldn’t convert, while Jonathan Toews wasn’t credited with a shot on goal in 20:38 of ice time.

Of the seven games completed so far in the opening round, the visiting teams have gone 5-2 and strong goaltending — or spectacular in the case of Jake Allen last night in Minnesota — has certainly contributed to that.

Game 2 of this series goes Saturday in Chicago.

Wilson and Williams lead Capitals over Maple Leafs in OT

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Tom Wilson has now played 29 Stanley Cup playoff games for the Washington Capitals. Prior to Thursday, he had yet to score a goal in the post-season.

That changed against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 1 of their first-round series. Wilson collected the puck along the boards and fired a shot over the shoulder of Frederik Andersen to give Washington a 3-2 overtime victory on home ice and a 1-0 series lead.

Yes, an unlikely hero for the Capitals. And probably a goal Andersen would like to have back.

Washington completed the comeback after a dreadful opening 10 minutes.

The Capitals are expected to go on a deep playoff run, favored to win it all. But the young and inexperienced Maple Leafs hardly looked intimidated in the first period, opening up a 2-0 lead as Washington struggled with bobbled pucks and giveaways.

That’s when an older hero re-emerged.

Justin Williams, 35, is known as Mr. Game 7 for his timely scoring ability in deciding games, but he got a head start with a pair of goals, getting the Capitals on the board late in the first period and the tying goal in the second.

During the first intermission, he told a Canadian reporter to “pump the brakes” on any assertion the Capitals looked nervous in the first 20 minutes of this best-of-seven series.

He then pumped the brakes on the Leafs lead.

Braden Holtby made 35 saves for the Capitals.