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Flames look to rebound against Capitals

Looking to bounce back from an embarrassing 9-1 loss on home ice to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, the Calgary Flames will face yet another tough opponent on Saturday.

The Flames (5-5-0) will host the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals (4-3-2) in an afternoon affair at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

A day after giving up six goals on 21 shots to the Penguins, goalie Mike Smith met with the media on Friday to talk about the disappointing loss.

"I don't think anyone can be very proud of what happened (Thursday) night," said Smith, who has allowed at least four goals in five of his past seven starts. "It was an embarrassment as far as I'm concerned, and I think everyone realizes that, but it's over.

"To blame guys would be an easy thing to do, an easy out. The harder thing is to just go and work hard and try to climb out of this thing."

Despite his lackluster performance against the Penguins, Smith will get the chance to redeem himself as he will get the start against the Caps.

"It's pretty early still," Smith said. "I think if you... start pouting and feel sorry for yourself, it's going to be a really long year. You have to realize that, put things in perspective and keep working hard and pushing forward."

Calgary coach Bill Peters refused to blame the loss to Pittsburgh on Smith or backup goalie David Rittich, who surrendered three goals on 15 shots in relief.

"Once we start playing a little bit better away from the puck -- not a little bit better, quite a bit better -- and with a commitment to playing defense as a group and as a unit of five, then we can talk about our goaltending," Peters said. "We're going to go right back to Smitty (Saturday) and give our group a chance to redeem themselves for that effort (Thursday) night."

Meanwhile, the Capitals will be looking to follow up a disappointing 4-1 loss in Edmonton on Thursday with a better performance against the Flames.

"We lost as well, so we don't want to lose two in a row so we're going to play differently as well," said reigning Conn Smyth Trophy winner Alexander Ovechkin, who expects the Flames to "come out flying" in front of their hometown fans.

Nine games into the season, the Capitals still haven't found a way to string together back-to-back wins, which is something that defenseman Matt Niskanen and his teammates would like to change.

"I think we're still searching for (consistency)," Niskanen said. "We'll keep a positive attitude and keep working, but I'd like to see us string a few together here with some better efforts.

"The good thing about our group is (something) we've kind of developed over the last couple years is we rebound pretty well. We have responses. We'll look for that in Calgary, but I think we all know we can play better."

Forward Chandler Stephenson echoed Niskanen's sentiments about the Capitals finding the consistency that helped them win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

"We're not panicking in here or pressing the panic button, so it's just a matter of time," Stephenson said. "We'll be right where we want to b

Updated October 26, 2018

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