It has been 363 days since the Capitals played a hockey game in front of live fans, but that streak ended tonight with about 3,000 Philly fans attending tonight’s game at Wells Fargo Center. Well, 3,000 Philly fans plus one Gritty.
The Capitals will be without the services of Tom Wilson for seven games while he serves his suspension, which he will not appeal, for boarding Boston’s Brandon Carlo. While this is definitely unfortunate for the Caps, especially for their special teams, it does mean that Daniel Sprong will get some extended time in the lineup. Here were the Capitals updated lines for tonight:
Capitals lines vs PHI:— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) March 7, 2021
The Capitals and Flyers have only seen each other once this season, a rarity during this division-only time, in a lopsided 7-4 Flyers’ win on Super Bowl Sunday that featured both Vitek Vanecek and Craig Anderson for the Caps and a Scott Laughton hatty for Philly. The two teams were supposed to play again on February 9, but the Flyers were in the midst of a COVID protocol mess and the game was rescheduled. They will now play each other three times in seven days at Wells Fargo Center.
Caps. Flyers. Gritty. Let’s roll.
Here’s Sunday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: After letting in a soft goal from Joel Farabee to start the game, Ilya Samsonov recovered well and looked really solid in net the rest of the game — he finished the night with 36 saves for a .973 SV%. This was an encouraging performance from Sammy, and is hopefully a sign of good things to come.
Minus: The Caps let the Flyers double them up on first period shots 14-7 and it was very noticeable. These are the poor starts that tend to come back to bite Washington, and while it didn’t tonight it is still something to keep an eye on.
And now, Gritty:
Nine more notes on the game:
1. Joel Farabee, one of Philadelphia’s leading goal scorers, got the Flyers on the board first with 8:56 left in the first after a two-on-one with James van Riemsdyk and Justin Schultz. Farabee beat Ilya Samsonov with a shot that went five-hole, and after a slow start the Flyers took a 1-0 lead. This was a pretty soft goal for Samsonov to let in, and he knew it.
2. Conor Sheary was called for hooking with 7:20 left in the period, giving the Flyers the first power play of the night. The Flyers started to buzz on the man-advantage, but the Capitals’ PK, ranked 12th in the league coming into tonight, limited them to just two shots and kept their deficit to one.
3. Travis Konecny got dinged for “goalie interference” with four minutes to go in the first, even though he was pushed into Samsonov by no less than two Caps. The call was so bad even Joe B and Locker talked about it on the Washington broadcast. Nevertheless, a Capitals’ power play that has a 9.7% success rate on the road this season (yeah, just 3 PPGs, woof) attempted to get to work. In an absolutely shocking turn of events, they did not score. Remember when Alex Ovechkin scored power play goals? Good times, good times...
4. Zdeno Chara took a trip to the box for tripping Jakub Voracek 7:56 into the second. This was a double ding since Big Zee racks up a lot of time on the PK. However, a mere five seconds later James van Riemsdyk was called for tripping Nick Jensen right off the faceoff. Cue 4-on-4 hockey for 1:55. Or not, because with 31 seconds left on Chara’s penalty John Carlson took a seat for a delay of game penalty and the Flyers went back on the power play. Not a great look for the all-star defenseman. Fortunately for the Caps, no Philly goals came out of this mess. Unfortunately for the Caps, they’re still down by one. A fun highlight from this two-minute stretch? A Chara-Jensen shorthanded two-on-one. Yes, you read that right.
5. Alexa, play “Shake, Rattle, and Roll”! That’s right folks, Alex Ovechkin finally got the Caps on the board with just under five to go in the second. T.J. Oshie set the play up beautifully: a fake drop pass at the point, a loop around to the right circle, and a sweet cross-zone pass. Ovechkin received it perfectly and he did not miss with a shot over Carter Hart’s shoulder for his eighth of the season. Ovi is now just four goals short of passing Phil Esposito (717) for sixth-most goals in NHL history. This was also the 363rd road goal of his career, which pushes him past Steve Yzerman (362) for sole possession of the second most in League history (Wayne Gretzky sits at the top of that list with 402). 1-1, tie game.
6. The Flyers were called for icing with less than 30 seconds left, and the Caps made them pay. Evgeny Kuznetsov beat Sean Couturier for the offensive-zone faceoff win (shoutout to Michael Peca) and, with just 15.8 seconds left, Dmitry Orlov gave the Caps their first lead of the night with a perfectly placed shot that beat Hart five-hole. That’s Orlov’s second goal, and second point, of the season. Orlov also now has six career goals against the Flyers, the most he has against any NHL team. 2-1 after 40 minutes.
7. Nick! Jensen! Goal! Alert! While Chara was busy throwing his weight around at the blue line and distracting the Flyers, Nick Jensen was busy crashing the net and scoring his first goal as a Capital on a beautiful wrister that zipped past Hart. This was Jensen’s first goal in 109 games as a Cap and his first goal in 166 games. Jensen has handled that goal drought with the utmost grace, and he more than deserved this tally. Caps up 3-1 with 15:45 left in the third.
Things we love to see: Nick Jensen getting his first goal as a Capital pic.twitter.com/uYIbIPbdJp— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 8, 2021
And don’t miss the John Walton call of this one:
AUDIO: Hear #ALLCAPS Nick Jensen break a 165-scoreless drought with his first goal since Oct.11, 2018— Ben Raby (@BenRaby31) March 8, 2021
A big goal in Philadelphia to give #ALLCAPS 3-1 lead vs #Flyers as called by @JohnWaltonPxP on @CapitalsRadio pic.twitter.com/eOXlDHwdTe
8. Just shy of the halfway point of the third period, Nic Dowd got caught tripping Kevin Hayes and took a seat in the sin bin. Another double whammy, since Dowd also skates a lot of shorthanded minutes and has the second-best record at the faceoff dot in the NHL since February 16. However, the Caps’ PK once again held the Flyers’ power play to just two shots, both of which Samsonov stopped.
9. The Flyers pulled Carter Hart with just under four minutes to go in the game and then took a timeout with 1:52 remaining. Neither team could score in the final minutes, and the Caps held onto their 3-1 lead for a win.
The Caps wrap up this five-game road trip with a 4-1-0 record and eight of a possible ten points. Up next for the Capitals: a quick trip home to face the New Jersey Devils at Capital One Arena on Tuesday.