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Ward scores 2, lifts Caps to 3-1 win over Flames

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Joel Ward scored twice — including the game-winner — to lead the Washington Capitals to a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Saturday night.

Ward’s second of the night 5:31 into the second period broke a 1-1 tie and gave the Capitals a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

The goal was set up by rookie Michael Latta, who carried the puck in deep before centering it in front where Ward, at the far goal post, backhanded it behind goalie Karri Ramo.

Ward has scored four goals, one behind team-leader Alex Ovechkin.

Nicklas Backstrom also scored for Washington (4-1-2), which has split the opening two games of its three-game swing through Western Canada.

Dennis Wideman had the lone goal for Calgary (5-4-1), which earned points in its previous three games and was 4-1-1 in its previous six.

The Capitals will conclude their trip at Vancouver on Sunday night.

Leading 2-1 after 40 minutes, the Capitals extended their edge 41 seconds into the third when Backstrom used Calgary defenseman Kris Russell as a screen and whipped a 40-foot wrist shot past Ramo.

After scoring only four goals last season, Wideman has five already this season to lead NHL defenseman. That includes goals in a career-best four straight games.

Down 1-0, Wideman tied it with 10 seconds left in the first period.

The defenseman made a nice fake at the blue line to shake off Jay Beagle and then put a shot on net that went through a crowd and eluded goalie Braden Holtby.

It was a power-play goal for the Flames, the result of a roughing penalty to Troy Brouwer, who after having Matt Stajan pinned near the Capitals bench, gave him a couple of hits in the back of the helmet.

The goal continued a trend for the Flames, whose offense has been carried by defensemen.

TJ Brodie has three goals, and the Flames have nine overall from defenseman. That is 36 percent of their total goals, the most in the NHL.

It was a much better night for Holtby than he had against Calgary last season when in two starts, he gave up six goals on 25 shots and was pulled in the first period of each game.

Holtby made 20 saves to improve to 3-1-1.

One of his best stops came against Mikael Backlund in the second period with the Capitals leading by a goal. Backlund was set up at the top of the crease by Mason Raymond but couldn’t get the puck over Holtby.

Holtby also made a sharp blocker save off Paul Byron on a breakaway halfway through the third period.

Ramo, the busier of the two goalies, had 27 stops to fall to 2-2-1.

Washington struck first at 11:17 of the first period taking advantage of a mistake from Deryk Engelland, who with control of the puck in his end fanned on a pass.

As the puck trickled off his stick, it was promptly reeled in by Ward, who was pressing on the forecheck. The Capitals forward stepped into the middle of the ice and snapped a shot past Ramo.

Ward is coming off his best NHL season when he had a career-high 24 goals and 49 points.

NOTES: The NHL record for consecutive games with a goal by a defenseman is eight. It is held by Washington’s Mike Green, who did it from Jan. 27-Feb. 14, 2009. … Other than the change in net, the Flames had the same lineup for a third straight game. Brian McGrattan, Devin Setoguchi and Raphael Diaz were healthy scratches. … Ovechkin played in his 686th game, moving him past Kevin Hatcher into ninth place on the Capitals’ career list. … Wideman’s goal was his 300th NHL point.

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