Sunday, March 05, 2017

A TWO-Point Night -- Game 64: Washington Capitals 2 - Philadelphia Flyers 1 (OT)

The Washington Capitals won their 15th consecutive game on home ice on Saturday night, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers, 2-1, in overtime.  It was the tenth time in the 15-game winning streak at home that the Caps held an opponent to one or no goals.

The teams spent the first 40 minutes of the game looking for that elusive first goal, and it was the Flyers getting it early in the third period.  Off a rush, a Matt Read too a feed from Nick Cousins in the left win circle.  He snapped a shot at the net that was redirected by Sean Couturier past goalie Braden Holtby just 79 seconds into the third period.

Before the period was three minutes old, the game was tied.  Dmitry Orlov collected a loose puck at the red line, skated down the middle into the Flyers’ end and ripped a shot past the left pad of goalie Steve Mason at the 2:40 mark.

And that would be all for the scoring in the regulation portion of the contest.  In overtime, Michael Del Zotto took a holding penalty for the Flyers that would be their undoing.  A minute into the ensuing power play, the Caps worked the puck around the top of the offensive zone, finding Nicklas Backstrom at the top of the right wing circle.  Backstrom curled in as the Flyer defense backed off an snapped a shot through a T.J.Oshie screen that beat Mason on the short side to give the Caps the win.

Other stuff…

-- Dmitry Orlov’s goal was his first since he recorded a pair in a 6-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on January 23rd.  It broke a 16-game streak without a goal for Orlov.

-- Nicklas Backstrom’s goal was his 20th of the season, matching his total from last season and making it four seasons in his career with 20 or more goals.

-- Tom Wilson was credited with nine hits, a season high for him and tying a career high set in March 2014 in a 5-4 Gimmick loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

-- The Caps surrendered six power play opportunities to the Flyers, tying the season high on home ice (January 3rd in a 6-5 overtime win against the Toronto Maple Leafs).  Only in a 6-2 win in New Jersey on New Year’s Eve against the Devils did the Caps face more shorthanded situations (nine).

-- Alex Ovechkin recorded an assist on the Backstrom game-winning goal, his 28th assist of the season.  It ties his best season over the last six years.  The last time he had more assists in a season was in 2010-2011, when he had 53 helpers.

-- The Caps managed just two shots in 7:04 of power play time over four power plays.  The second shot was the game-winner.

-- Kevin Shattenkirk recorded his first point as a Capital, earning the primary assist on Backstrom’s game-winning goal.

-- Backstrom had a team-high five blocked shots and won 11 of 15 faceoffs.

-- Braden Holtby just keeps rolling.  After stopping 30 of 31 shots in this game, he is 19-0-1 (two no-decisions), 1.71, .935, with four shutouts in the 2017 portion of the season.

-- The shot attempts were relatively even at 5-on-5.  The Caps owned a slight edge in shot attempts at fives (42-41), while the Flyers had an edge in shots on goal (22-19; numbers from

In the end…

Twelve minor penalties, ten power plays, a lot of get-up-in-your-face hockey.  A typical Caps-Flyers night.  The win was two-fold for the Caps, adding another win to go 31 games over .500 and striking another blow against the Flyers’ fading playoff hopes (they are three points out of the second wild-card spot and four teams to climb over).  It was hardly a dominating win, but it did provide evidence of an ability to grind out ugly wins.  And, the Caps have been remarkably stingy allowing goals at home, having allowed just 15 goals in their last 13 games on home ice.  Now, if they can just rid themselves of that pesky tendency to take too many penalties.

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