The Capitals just played two very physical, very emotional games in New York, so it isn’t too surprising that they didn’t have the same fire coming home to face a Flyers team that has nothing to lose. The hangover showed and the Caps failed to capitalize on their chances (and had the puck bounce the wrong way more often than not), leading to a frustrating loss.
Plus: Despite being down top players like Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Justin Schultz, the Capitals played a really hard game and just couldn’t get that extra inch to go their way.
Minus: The first half of the first period was a little rough, with the Flyers winning every battle and chance.
More thoughts on the game:
- The Flyers got on the board first with a really whacky goal early in the opening frame. A puck went from the corner to the side of the net, then bounced into the slot, off a stick, off the post into the air, down on Farabee’s skate that kicked it through the ice wide... then Vanecek accidentally kicked it into the net.
- The Caps seemed to strike back on an odd net-front frenzy of their own shortly after, but it was determined that Daniel Sprong kicked it in so it didn’t count. A good kick at one end, a bad one at the other. That’s... hockey?
- With a little less than four minutes left in the first, Anthony Mantha made a great read off a faceoff loss in the offensive zone, stealing the puck along the boards and making a sweet feed to the slot. Waiting there was Daniel Sprong the unstoppable goal scoring machine, picking up his sixth goal in his last six games to even things up at one apiece.
- The period ended on a high note, when with only a few seconds left in the first, Vanecek made a fantastic save on an odd-man rush where he had to push left to right. It kept the game tied and gave hope for some momentum going into the second.
- That ended up not being the case, as the the Flyers jumped back out in front less than five minutes into the second period. It started with a cross-dump pass that seemed like it confused the Washington players, with Zdeno Chara and Conor Sheary crossing signals while Vitek Vanecek seemed to think the puck would die in the corner. Instead it popped back out to the circle and Wade Allision one-timed it over Vanecek’s blocker giving them a 2-1 lead.
- During an offensive-zone faceoff on the power play, one of the Flyers interfered with Tom Wilson, sending him toppling over onto the left knee of Sheary who collapsed on the ice in some discomfort. He left the game, but luckily made a return toward the end of the period.
- On a night of weird bounces and weird non-bounces, the Flyers’ third goal stayed on message. With a delayed penalty call against the Caps, the Flyers sent the puck around the net but it hit the knob of Vanecek’s stick en route, flew into the air, and was knocked in by Allison to extend the Flyers’ lead to two.
- The Caps were tormented by the post a couple of times tonight, including a couple of shots by John Carlson (off Elliot’s glove and then off the post) and shortly after, Garnett Hathaway’s sniper off the post and out.
- With just over a minute left in the first period (sorry, no nuggets!), T.J. Oshie came up with a huge tip-in goal to return it to a one-goal game. Oshie was one of the more engaged players tonight and picked up his fourth goal in the last five periods.
- Ready for another post? Neither were the Caps, but there was Dmitry Orlov with a loud clang off the inside of the post a couple of minutes into the third.
- One more excellent chance that just fell short awaited when Sheary found himself with an open net only to have Elliot make a fantastic sprawling save on him. The rebound went back to Sheary, who shot it again only to have it hit Elliot and pop on top of the net and over. They just didn’t get those bounces tonight.
An empty-net goal by Sean Couturier with about 30 seconds left would clinch the win for the Flyers. Not ideal, as the Caps now have to win their last two in regulation in order to secure the division (or one of the two should Pittsburgh happen to lose to Buffalo tomorrow night, so... they’ll probably need two regulation wins). Buckle up!