LANDOVER -- Michal Pivonka's second power-play goal of the game lifted the Washington Capitals to a 4-2 National Hockey League victory over the Calgary Flames before a capacity crowd of 18,130 at the Capital Centre last night.
Pivonka redirected Calle Johansson's slap shot from the top of the left circle into the upper corner of the net past Flames goalie Mike Vernon with 3 minutes, 56 seconds remaining to break a 2-2 tie.
"Calle took the shot from outside and I just tried to get my stick on it," Pivonka said. "It was a lucky goal. It hit my stick and went into the top of the goal.
"We played a great defensive game. We didn't want to give Calgary many chances, and we worked at it [the Flames were limited to 15 shots]. Everybody was ready. We wanted to play well because we knew we had to go on the road and we wanted to start out with a win."
Mike Ridley added an insurance goal with 45 seconds remaining, scoring into an empty net.
The victory enabled the Capitals to extend their unbeaten streak to four (3-0-1) and evened the series with the Flames at 1-1.
Pivonka's first goal of the game -- on the rebound of a shot by Kevin Hatcher at 12:52 of the second period -- gave Washington a 2-1 lead. However, Gary Roberts, left alone in the slot, tied the score at 17:52 of the second period.
Washington played without defenseman and team captain Rod Langway, who is bothered by back spasms. Langway will not make the the trip, which starts tonight in Monteal. A defenseman will have to be recalled from the Baltimore Skipjacks to replace Langway.
The Capitals did not allow the Flames a shot on goal for the first eight minutes. But Calgary scored on its third shot, a wrist shot tTC from between the hash marks by Gary Suter that beat Washington goalie Don Beaupre, who was screened, high and to the stick side at 11:08.
Washington had several excellent scoring opportunities in the first period, but the Capitals could not get a shot past Vernon.
Second-period goals by Dimitri Khristich and Pivonka boosted the Capitals into a 2-1 lead, before Roberts tied it for Calgary.
Washington equaled its season high for shots in a period with 20 in the second, but Vernon continued to be tough to beat. He made breakaway saves on Peter Zezel, Peter Bondra, Dale Hunter and Kevin Hatcher.
NOTES: The Capitals begin a five-game trip tonight in Montreal. Washington's next game at the Capital Centre will be Jan. 25 against the Minnesota North Stars. . . . HTS will carry the NHL Old-Timers All-Star Game from Chicago at 7:30 p.m. Friday, and NBC (channels 2, 4) will carry the 42nd NHL All-Star Game from Chicago Stadium Saturday at 1 p.m.