The Capitals returned to Philly for the second straight game and third in fourth games. After winning the the first two of this mini-series, it was a good bet that Philly and their fans wouldn’t let it be three in a row - but the Capitals defied them and won a close one.
Plus: The fourth line was part of three of the goals tonight. It’s nice when the big guns score, but a team will not win a Cup without scoring depth from all four lines, and the Caps’ depth has been showing lately.
Minus: The second line containing Jakub Vrana, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Daniel Sprong is a very fun line that has been good lately, but they can also be a little lackadaisical defensively. The first two goals the Flyers scored tonight were from the second lines defensive turnovers. At least it’s something they’re aware of - Sprong, during the second intermission interview, talked about his line needs to be better.
And now, this:
where momma hides the cookies pic.twitter.com/ImtMbf4UEe— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 14, 2021
A few more notes on the game:
- The Caps got things rolling early as just five minutes into the game, perfect player Daniel Sprong went to the net and chopped at a rebound from a Jakub Vrana shot that went up and over Brian Elliott for the goal. It was Sprong’s third goal in the last three games (and not one Elliott was likely too happy to give up).
- It’s important to note before that goal it was Evgeny Kuznetsov with a couple of great defensive plays that led to the scoring chance in the first place. Kuznetsov will never be confused for a Selke winner, but he’s put in the effort defensively this season and it’s showing.
- A bit later in the first, Nic Dowd had a great poke check to keep the puck in the offensive zone, which led quickly to a Carl Hagelin goal where he banged in a rebound between Elliot’s legs. That put the Capitals up 2-0.
- It was great to get Lars Eller back as he missed last game to a personal family matter, but he played all of three shifts in the game before he left with a lower body injury and did not return. Hope he’s okay.
- The Capitals entered the second period with a 2-0 lead - but Caps fans know that sometimes those multi-goal leads can be fleeting, and this one proved to be just that. Early in the second period, perfect player Daniel Sprong tried to backhand a puck out of the defensive zone but flubbed it, giving the puck right to James van Riemsdyk who put it in the back of the net.
- Not even a minute later, Nick Jensen (aka Bobby Orr), streaked down the ice after a faceoff and scored a beauty of a ripper that went bar in. After going zero goals in 108 games with the Capitals, Jensen has now scored two in his last four games.
- The high from another Jensen goal didn’t last long, as the Flyers got one back again very quickly when the second line, again, had a tough time getting the puck out of their zone. Nolan Patrick, a player who hasn’t recorded a point in SEVENTEEN games, got a nice cross ice pass and shot it past Ilya Samsonov, who appeared to get a piece of it but not enough.
- Samsonov has been a bit rusty since his return, which is understandable after what he’s been through, but he made an amazing, clutch save right after the Flyers just scored. If he doesn’t make that save the game is tied, the Flyers would have all the momentum and the Capitals would have been deflated.
- The Capitals are ranked 30th in the league in power play success on the road, but even that lowly power play will get a boost from the greatest goal-scorer ever. Alex Ovechkin was able to put a seeing eye shot through a couple bodies to take another two-goal lead. General Manager Brian MacLellan mentioned the other day that he thinks Ovechkin is heating up and will start putting the net in the back of the net. It’s his third goal in four games.
- The Capitals took another two goal lead into the third period. Which basically means as a Caps fan you are about to grow another ulcer.
- The fourth line has been heating up lately, and got on the board again in the third period when Nic Dowd had a nice tip right in front of the net that trickled through Carter Hart. The fourth line had two goals last game and had two goals tonight (and were on the ice for three, counting Jensen’s tally).
- Jensen took a penalty with eight minutes left and of course the Flyers scored on it to bring the game within two, kicking off another round of clenched... everything for Caps fans. Samsonov probably should have read the play a bit better, as the puck just flew right past him, but there was a lot of traffic in front.
- With the goalie pulled for the Flyers, the invisible Claude Giroux scored again to make it a one-goal game with almost three minutes left. Luckily the Capitals were able to hold on to the lead - despite missing multiple empty-net shots - and took the two points by a 5-4 score.
Next up the Capitals have a double header coming up, playing the New Jersey Devils Monday then the New York Islanders Tuesday. It’s important the Capitals win Monday because they’ll be tired by the Islanders while the Islander will be rested, so a win will be difficult.