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Caps Top Flyers, Win Ninth Straight

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Caps didn’t seem like a team that was particularly interested in winning its ninth game in a row, at least through 40 minutes. But after a sizzling first seven minutes of the third increased its lead from one to five, Washington did just that, taking over first place in the Metropolitan division, Eastern conference, and NHL standings.

  • Plus: Four goals in five minutes is one effective way to seize control of a game.
  • Minus: John Carlson did not play after the first period.

And now, this...

Ten more notes on the game:

  • The Capitals played a poor first, and got weaker as the period went along, unable to establish a forecheck or cycle. They seemed to always be a step or two too late, and poor passing erased some of the opportunities they did get. In particular, Marcus Johansson and Dmitry Orlov over-passed on a 2-on-1. The Caps got better as the game went along, but the passing on the rush wasn’t particular strong for the second line most of the game.
  • Although Grubauer wasn’t constantly tested at the other end, he had to make a couple of really nice saves, first falling to his right to stop Dale Weise on a loose puck around the net, then later kicking out the left pad to stop Brayden Schenn on a power-play one-timer.
  • The second period was pretty even, but Washington came out ahead, courtesy of a gift on a power play. Andre Burakovsky lost the puck on a zone entry, but Michael Del Zotto whiffed on his clearing attempt, leaving the puck on a platter for Burakovsky in the slot to rifle past Steve Mason.
  • The Flyers came close to tying it up twice in the second. First, a Radko Gudas dump-in beat Grubauer, but the linesman had blown the play dead because Sean Couturier was a step offsides. Later, on a power play, Mark Streit’s one-timer went off Grubauer’s glove and off the post.
  • The first seven minutes of the third period were quite eventful. After a faceoff win, Marcus Johansson skated behind the net but threw the puck back out on the short side, where Justin Williams roofed a shot to double the Caps’ lead to 2-0.
  • A little over a minute later, Ivan Provorov couldn’t handle a pass at the blueline, sending Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin away on a 2-on-1. Backstrom passed to Ovechkin who wound up for a one-timer and then passed to Matt Niskanen for an easy tap-in goal.
  • Niskanen got a second goal not much later, as Mason simply missed catching his unscreened point shot.
  • Williams added his second goal thanks to a gorgeous between-the-legs pass from Backstrom in the low slot.
  • Nate Schmidt made several nice plays in his own end, including breaking up a 2-on-1 by simply skating over to the puck carrier and taking the puck away. A defenseman who can skate very well and handle the puck under pressure is a great player to have on the third pair.
  • It wasn’t all good, though—after getting injured in the first, John Carlson is merely “possible” to play Monday in Pittsburgh.

After just 10 shots on target through 40 minutes, the Capitals put on a dominant start to the third, and that was more than enough. Winners of nine consecutive games, the Caps are back on pace for 120 points, and over their last six games have seemed particularly invincible:

This winning streak won’t last much longer, in all likelihood. But given the opponent tomorrow night, one more win would still be particularly sweet.

Game highlights: