Capitals stop Flames

Flames forward Rene Bourque reacts as the Capitals celebrate a goal at the Verizon Center in...

Flames forward Rene Bourque reacts as the Capitals celebrate a goal at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., Jan. 3, 2012. (JONATHAN ERNST/Reuters)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:36 AM ET

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A case can be made the first penalty Rene Bourque took cost the Calgary Flames the game.

Bourque's second penalty could very well cost him in the pocketbook.

Bourque's holding penalty in the first minute resulted in an Alex Ovechkin tally just 71 seconds into the Washington Capitals 3-1 victory over the Flames Tuesday at the Verizon Center, creating an uphill battle for the struggling club.

A third-period chicken-wing elbow to the chops of Nicklas Backstrom will likely earn Bourque his second meeting with the NHL's disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan in less than a month.

"Stupid penalty. We're trying to get momentum and I take it away from us, again," Bourque said of the elbow which came at the midway point of the frame.

"Did it look really bad? Was he hurt? I didn't even know if I clipped him. I didn't even know if I hit him in the head."

Backstrom started on the ensuing powerplay and had two more shifts before leaving the game with three assists.

Bourque received a two-game suspension before Christmas after hitting Chicago's Brent Seabrook in the head, so this could mean more severe action.

In the aftermath of losing their fourth straight, the focus was more on Bouque's first penalty, a holding infraction taken behind the Washington net.

"It was a big mistake to take that penalty," Ovechkin said with a snicker during a first-intermission interview which was broadcast on the big screen.

"Even though it looked like I was holding him, I couldn't move because my arm was on the other side of him," Bourque pleaded. "It's a back-breaker. They score in the first minute."

It's about the only thing coach Brent Sutter was upset about: "We had a long meeting about it this morning. That was one thing we discussed, that our discipline has to be better. We can't be spending time in the box, taking those bad penalties. They're bad penalties any time of the year, let alone now when you're fighitng for a playoff spot. You have to be a lot smarter than that and play the game the right way."

Troy Brouwer and Dennis Wideman also scored for Washington.

Now the Flames (18-18-5) are in dire need of a win in Boston where they finish their road swing.

"There's a whole game left. Nobody on our bench was thinking we had lost," captain Jarome Iginla said of the goal just over a minute into play. "It's a boost for them more than a downer for us."

To their credit, the Flames may have deserved a better fate.

Curtis Glencross scored the lone goal, but they had all kinds of chances to draw even before the announced crowd of 18,506 at the Verizon Center.

Caps goalie Tomas Vokoun made big stops on Olli Jokinen, Bourque and Lee Stempniak in an 18-save win for Washington (21-15-2).

The Flames were also victimized by tough luck. Tim Jackman saw a sure goal stopped because Caps defenceman Dmitry Orolov's stick got in the way and T.J. Brodie rang a shot off the post early in the third period.

"When you look at the overall trip, so far, it has been the best game since Christmas that we've played," said head coach Brent Sutter. "You can always stand here and look at the negatives when you don't win, but I've always said we play the right way, do things the right way, play hard, the guys will never hear me complain or bitch about it.

"All you can ask is for you guys to play and compete hard, and I thought we did that tonight."

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak


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