Wednesday Night Hockey on NBCSN. Rivalry Night. Capitals versus Flyers. Proverbial four-point game. Buckle up, folks, this is a big divisional match-up and the Flyers are coming in hot, riding a six-game win streak. Philadelphia, who trailed the Caps by 15 points in the standings in early January, entered tonight’s tilt just three points behind the division-leading Caps. Let’s go.
Here’s Wednesday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: With his goal tonight, Lars Eller matched his career-high of 38 points set two seasons ago. He is also now two goals away from the career-high of 18 he set that same season.
Minus: The Capitals’ power play? It’s bad, folks! 0-for-5 with four total shots on goal? Woof. The zone entries are messy, predictable, and seem to fall apart the millisecond something goes not according to plan. The power play had been struggling before tonight, but this game really put it in perspective.
And now, congratulations on 800 career games, Oshbabe!:
T.J. Oshie is playing in his 800th NHL game tonight against Philadelphia. Since joining the Capitals in 2015-16, Oshie has recorded 127 goals in 356 games to rank second on the Capitals (Alex Ovechkin: 228), which is tied for the 33rd most in the NHL during that span. pic.twitter.com/MeNPt6P1bo— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) March 5, 2020
Fourteen more notes on the game:
1. Just 1:08 into the game, Scott Laughton took a trip to the penalty box for interference against T.J. Oshie. The Caps’ power play has two PPGs in their last 14 attempts. - no wait, scratch that, now two PPGs in their last 15 attempts. The highlight of this man-advantage for Washington? Matt Niskanen, who might know a thing or two about the Caps’ power play, stepped up to block an Alex Ovechkin shot.
2. James van Riemsdyk took a puck to his right hand with about nine minutes remaining in the period, and he went down the tunnel immediately after skating to the bench. He would not return.
Flyers coach Alain Vigneault says on NBCSN broadcast that James van Riemsdyk had x-rays on his right hand and that “it doesn’t look good.” Sounds like he won’t be back tonight— Adam Kimelman (@NHLAdamK) March 5, 2020
3. Justin Braun, who took a massive hit from Tom Wilson earlier in the period, was called for holding on Garnet Hathaway at 11:55 in the first. Tru The Caps spent the majority of their power play time trying to get themselves set up in the offensive zone with failed slingshot and drop passes, and never got a shot on net. What is it going to take for the Caps’ coaching staff to revamp this thing?
4. With just under six minutes to go in the first, Lars Eller got the Caps on the board first with a beauty for his 16th goal of the season. Even more beautiful than the goal? Richard Panik’s behind-the-back pass to Eller. Panik now has five points (1G, 4A) in his last nine games.
What a pass & what a finish pic.twitter.com/aSfFTSqaCi— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 5, 2020
5. If you had “Tom Wilson and Nate Thompson drop the gloves” on your Bingo card for tonight, ding ding ding!
Thompson and Wilson both got five for fighting but Wilson caught the extra minor for roughing, so the Flyers went on the power play. However, with 28 seconds left on the Flyers’ power play, Kevin Hayes took an interference penalty for, and this is not a joke, “sticking his rear end out” at Garnet Hathaway. Neither team converted on their shortened power play opportunities.
6. Evgeny Kuznetsov was called for slashing 1:17 into the second, but the Caps’ stellar PK killed it off. Then, about 30 seconds after Kuznetsov’s penalty expired, Washington was called for a (very weak) too many men penalty. Then Garnet Hathaway gave the Flyers 12 seconds of five-on-three by high-sticking Robert Hagg. Travis Konecny appeared to score just as the two-man advantage expired, but the goal was waved off because Holtby clearly did some magic and made the puck disappear. Seriously, there was no camera angle that could confirm the puck crossed the line, it simply vanished.
7. Well, no doubt about Travis Konecny’s power play tally with 12:54 left in the second. Ivan Provorov fired a point shot right at Holtby, and Holtby played the rebound well, but it took an unlucky bounce off Konecny’s leg right to his stick, where he was free to send it to the back of the net.
8. Brenden Dillon, who has apparently made it his mission to smash all of his new Metro, took a trip to the box for roughing Laughton at 12:42 of the second. The Caps’ PK got to work for the fifth time tonight, and successfully killed this one off. However, just as Dillon’s penalty expired, Derek Grant made a pretty sick skate pass across the crease and Hayes was there to slam the puck past Holtby. 2-1 lead for Philly.
9. A five-on-two where the Caps are the two? That can’t possibly be good, right? Spoiler alert: it was not! Tyler Pitlick made it 3-1 Flyers after capping off a great odd-man rush for Philly. Feels like a momentum shift, folks.
10. The Caps took one look at that great puck movement the Flyers just pulled off, and what do you know, they felt inspired! Dillon and Nic Dowd capitalized on a Laughton turnover and Wilson and Garnet Hathaway had a beautiful give and go down the ice that ended in Hathaway’s eighth goal of the season. With this assist, Wilson now has six points (5G, 1A) in his last 10 games.
11. Tom Wilson two-fight night? Two-fight period in fact, because Willy dropped the gloved with Robert Hagg with 14.8 seconds left in the second. While this was Wilson’s second fight of the night, it was Hagg’s second fight...of his career. Both skaters got five for fighting.
Willy don't hurt me... no more.— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) March 5, 2020
-Hagg, probably pic.twitter.com/ws2qfAtEKH
12. Michael Raffl at 3:15 of the third period. This power play got off to a better start than their previous chances because they actually won the opening faceoff, but then it was more of the same. Bad zone entries, predictable plays, and zero shots. They did spice it up in one way, though: a power play icing!
13. Ivan Provorov put the Flyers up 4-2 with 13:42 left in the game after a patient play from Jakub Voracek and a complete lack of team defense from the Caps gave Provorov plenty of space to move in towards the net. Are you a glutton for secondhand embarrassment? If so, go ahead and watch Ovechkin on the replay for this one. Oof.
14. The Caps’ struggle to put together a complete 60-minute game continues. The Flyers won a faceoff in the Washington zone and quickly found the back of the net to increase their lead to three. Scott Laughton was credited with the goal, but it ended up taking an unlucky (for the Caps) bounce off Dmitry Orlov’s skate. That sure sounds painfully familiar...
This loss was a rough one, but hopefully the Caps can use it as motivation to bounce back. Up next: a trip to the Big Apple to face the Rangers tomorrow night for another divisional match-up.