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Game 1 Recap: Caps 5, Flyers 4

[AP Recap - WashingtonCaps.com Postgame]

Despite a fairly awesome arsenal of firepower, the Caps aren't exactly known as a team that's going to storm back from a third period deficit, much less a two-goal third period deficit. In fact, the Caps had the second fewest wins in the NHL when trailing after two periods this past season, and an abysmal 1-25-2 record in such situations (and last season wasn't much better at 2-36-3).

But entering the third period of last night's Game 1 of the Patrick Division Semifinals Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, that's exactly what the Caps had to do. And it's exactly what they did.

Some thoughts on the game:
  • First and foremost, our thoughts are with Patrick Thoresen. Get well soon, kid (and kudos to everyone from Flyers bench boss John Stevens to the Flyers bloggers for not griping about the whistle not blowing).
  • That building was loud. And red. Honestly, the Caps could have been playing Phoenix and there wouldn't have been any fewer visiting fans in the house - I'd bet that was the fewest Flyers fans ever at a Caps game in D.C./Maryland. Seriously.
  • Once the Caps' weakside defensemen started pinching (i.e. in the third period), the Caps dominated.
  • Danny Briere is a great villain. My guess is Number Eight will be welcomed similarly in the MegaBank Du Jour Center for Game 3.
  • Better game to be at - last night's or Alex Ovechkin's four-goal game against Montreal?
  • If the Caps can win Cristobal Huet's worst game since being acquired (statistically, at the very least) and one in which Ovie is shotless through two periods, they're in good shape... because Philly won't get that combination of events again.
  • Despite the slow start, AO ended up with a fairly Ovie-like stat line: goal, assist, plus-one, three shots on goal, eight hits, one takeaway (I wonder when that was).
  • For all the talk of Flyer physicality, the Caps out-hit their visitors 40-36, with AO, Matt Bradley and Matt Cooke leading the way with eight, seven and six hits, respectively.
  • Speaking of Bradley, at what point in the last couple of months did I fall absolutely in love with his game?
  • And speaking of Cooke, I've said it before and I'll say it again - every shift is a bad penalty waiting to happen. Some might question his interference call last night, but from where I was sitting it was an easy call to make (to use a Locker-ism), perhaps only because one of his teammates prevented the puck from getting to him and his target. That penalty aside, Cookie had a strong game.
  • Part of Alex Ovechkin's failure to get going in the first two periods (offensively - he was hitting everything that moved) was due to Nicklas Backstrom's and Viktor Kozlov's play. Has Backstrom hit the wall? Was Kozzy a little intimidated? We should have a clearer answer to both questions on Sunday.
  • One of the great mysteries of all time - we're talking Stonehenge here - is why Steve Eminger hasn't gotten more minutes over the past two years. I firmly believe that if Emmy had gotten 65 games this year, he'd be a legitimate fourth defenseman. But what do I know?
  • Alex Semin had a very strong game, and his pass to Sergei Fedorov - a ten foot pass in traffic? - which Feds no-looked to Mike Green for the finish was one of the Caps' nicer three-way passing plays in some time.
  • Mike Green. Damn. After leading the League's defensemen in goals this year and last night's nationally (in the two countries that matter) telecast coming-out party, is he officially no longer under the radar?
  • The Caps dominated the faceoff circle (glad you're back, Stecks), winning 36 of 62 draws (58%). Caps pivots were 8-for-12 in the offensive zone and 16-for-23 at the other end of the ice - that's a whole bunch of instant offense created and opposition chances that never get started.
  • Jaro Modry was minus-four on the night for the Flyers. The Caps scored four even-strength goals. You do the math.
  • Tomas Fleischmann was the only Cap at minus-two or worse. If I'm Bruce Boudreau, I plug Eric Fehr in that spot for Game 2.
  • Tom Poti - and not Green - led the team in ice time at just 24:23. Fantastic player management in what promises to be a physical and perhaps lengthy series.
  • Some credit for Green's big game is owed to the return of his D-partner Shaone Morrisonn.
  • I can't wrap this up without mentioning Donald Brashear, so consider him mentioned. Way to get it started, big fella.
  • Finally, how about this brilliant picture of the game-winner by Ellen Blanchard of Off Wing Opinion?
Photo courtesy Off Wing Opinion

One down, fifteen to go. See you Sunday.