It served as the ideal place for a coach’s cop-out.

To mumble something about a moral victory. About taking out positives about finding silver linings. About his group taking manly strides — in a hostile environment in the first appearance of the regular season.

But Bob Hartley in the morning had insisted that he would not take the easy way out this winter.

And hours later he didn’t.

“Obviously disappointed with the result” the Calgary Flames coach said minutes after his team — which had led by three goals midway through the contest — fell 5-4 in a shootout to the Washington Capitals in National Hockey League action Thursday at the Verizon Center. “I told the boys that it’s one thing to play in the NHL (but) there’s a different way to win in the NHL. Don’t just be glad to be in the NHL. When you have a 3-0 lead you have to find a way to keep it.

“We not going to start after Game 1 saying ‘We’re young and that.’ No excuse.”

It’s certainly true that the Flames could not have ordered up a better first period.

Their new starter Karri Ramo was perfect repelling all 12 pucks.

Their new winger David Jones scored the night’s — the season’s — first goal with an assist going their new rookie Sean Monahan.

Their new captain Mark Giordano picked up two assists on goals by Lee Stempniak and Jiri Hudler.

Their new brand of hockey — relentlessness assertiveness — helped to chase goalie Braden Holtby.

Ahead 3-0 there had been nearly nothing to gripe about.

But even though Lance Bouma provided a fourth goal — after Connor Carrick’s breakaway conversion — the Caps’ superstar took over.

Toe-draggingly dangerous — ask Kris Russell — Alex Ovechkin crushed a couple of Flames — ask Ben Street — and bagged a couple of goals with his trademark shot — ask Ramo.

Which left the Flames nursing a one-goal lead into the third period.

They survived Matt Stajan’s slashing penalty but T.J. Galiardi’s goaltender-interference minor — an undisciplined display — was terribly costly. Nicklas Backstrom scored on the power play — one assist going to Ovechkin — sending the night into overtime.