Backstrom ends SO, Copley gets 1st win as Caps beat Flames
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Pheonix Copley went the distance for his first NHL win.
The Capitals’ backup goaltender stopped 27 of 30 shots in regulation and overtime, plus three of four in the shootout, as Washington beat the Calgary Flames 4-3 on Saturday.
The 26-year-old backup from North Pole, Alaska, a community near Fairbanks, was making his third career start and his fifth NHL appearance Saturday.
“I’ll remember this one for a while,” said Copley, who was mobbed by his teammates after Nicklas Backstrom scored the shootout winner.
“Obviously the first win means a lot, so it feels good. It wasn’t an easy game. They came back and it was good everyone kept battling.”
Matt Niskanen, Jakub Vrana and T.J. Oshie scored in regulation for Washington, which has won two of three on its Canadian trip.
Matthew Tkachuk, Travis Hamonic and Elias Lindholm had goals in regulation for Calgary, which lost its third straight. Johnny Gaudreau had two assists to reach 200 for his career.
Sean Monahan scored for the Flames in the shootout. Mike Smith turned away 24 of 27 shots in regulation and overtime.
Smith repelled T.J. Oshie and John Carlson in the shootout, while Copley held off Tkachuk, James Neal and Gaudreau.
The Flames trailed 2-0 early in the first period and 3-2 late in the third. Coach Bill Peters liked his team’s recovery from a 9-1 drubbing at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins two days earlier.
“That’s probably as hard as we’ve worked from start to finish as a group,” Peters said.
“We didn’t get down. The bench was real good. Lively and vibrant. Lots of positives, but we would have liked to get the extra point.”
With Smith pulled for an extra attacker, Tkachuk tipped in a shot by Rasmus Andersson with 1:27 remaining to pull the Flames even.
“Obviously you don’t want to let something like that affect you,” Copley said. “There’s still a lot of hockey left and big moments in the game.”
Calgary had a power play 15 seconds later when Kuznetsov put the puck over the glass for a delay-of-game penalty, but the hosts couldn’t generate the winner.
Copley hoisted the Stanley Cup with the Capitals last spring when he was called up from the AHL for the postseason, even though he didn’t’ appear in any playoff games.
Braden Holtby will get the majority of the starts for the Caps this season, but Copley had some prep for Saturday. He played in a shootout loss to Florida on Oct. 19 when he relieved Holtby after the first period.
“Cops made some great saves back there,” Backstrom said Saturday. “It was nice to get this one for him and get this one off his back.”
The Caps went ahead 3-2 with about three minutes left in the second period when Niskanen threaded a shot through traffic to beat Smith glove side.
Vrana opened the scoring midway through the first period. Kuznetsov turned a turnover into a two-man rush and dished to Vrana, who beat Smith stick side.
The league’s best power play struck at 14:27 when Oshie backhanded a rebound over Smith after Ovechkin’s wrist shot.
Fifteen second later, Gaudreau’s shot deflected off the leg of Hamonic for the defenseman’s first goal of the season. Hamonic missed eight games with a broken jaw suffered in the season opener.
The Flames drew even on Lindholm’s power-play goal with just over three minutes left in the first. The Swede one-timed a cross-ice pass from Gaudreau for his seventh goal this season.
NOTES: Flames forward James Neal was hit hard into the boards in the first period. He skated to the bench favoring his left shoulder, but continued to play.
Capitals: Get four days off before continuing their Canadian trip at Montreal on Thursday.
Flames: At Toronto on Monday in the first of back-to-back road games.