Johnny Gaudreau would rather talk about anything other than his offensive production. He’s just making it impossible to avoid.
Gaudreau had a goal and an assist to extend his career-best point streak to 10 games and lead the Calgary Flames to a 4-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on Monday night. Gaudreau, nicknamed “Johnny Hockey,” has eight goals and 11 assists, and the Flames are 7-3-0 in that time.
“It’s cool,” Gaudreau said. “Coming into games, we’re excited to find a way to find the net there. It’s an exciting time right now. We’re playing well. But you go through ups and downs throughout the season and right now it’s going well for us, so hopefully we can keep this going and keep playing well.”
Gaudreau scored and assisted on Sean Monahan’s goal, one of two on the power play for Calgary, which has won four of its past five. Mikael Backlund and captain Mark Giordano also scored for the Flames, who got 29 saves from Mike Smith.
Monahan had a goal and an assist after a power-play hat trick in a comeback victory Saturday at Philadelphia. Calgary’s top line is clicking, and everyone knows Gaudreau is the catalyst.
“He’s making something happen every shift,” Monahan said. “To be able to play on his line, it’s a lot of fun right now. That confidence is hard to take away from a guy like that, so he’s going to continue to do that.”
Coach Glen Gulutzan sees confidence oozing from the 5-foot-9, 157-pound winger from Carneys Point, New Jersey. His goal tied the score at the 4:49 mark after Lars Eller struck first for the Capitals about a minute in, but Gaudreau’s play in the defensive zone also stood out.
“What a coach likes more is his backcheck on [Alex Ovechkin] that lifted the stick,” Gulutzan said. “I know he’s going to get points because he’s just that gifted, but his commitment to winning just shows itself night in, night out. I love that he’s on the roll. You want him to stay on the roll. But I thought that line again had a tough matchup and they did well.”
Caps need to learn ‘tough lessons’
The Capitals took five minor penalties and lost for the third time in four games.
“It’s going to be tough sledding for us this year,” defenceman Matt Niskanen said. “We’re going to have to work really hard to be consistent because it’s not going to be easy for us. We’re going to have to learn some tough lessons along the way.”
Goaltender Braden Holtby, who stopped 35 of 39 shots, thought he should’ve stopped Gaudreau’s off the rush but also allowed third-period goals to Backlund and Giordano.
“I need to make some saves,” Holtby said. “There’s some stoppable pucks there, and that’s the difference.”
The Flames’ power play was officially 2 of 5 with Giordano’s goal coming 1 second after ex-Calgary forward Alex Chiasson’s penalty expired. The Capitals’ power play went 0 for 3, a win for Calgary’s NHL-worst penalty kill.
“They did a great job tonight, especially with the Caps’ power play,” Gaudreau said. “They did a great job cleaning that up, and it was a big reason why we won tonight was the PK.”
That was a big reason, but so was the play of Gaudreau, Monahan and Micheal Ferland, who have a fan in 45-year-old legend Jaromir Jagr.
“They’re our top guys,” said Jagr, who had an assist in what could be his final visit to Washington, where he played parts of three seasons. “They play unbelievable. The way they play every night is the reason why we have the record we have.”