Thursday, March 06, 2014

Washington Capitals: A NO-point Night -- Game 63: Flyers 6 - Capitals 4

Well, at least they didn't let a two-goal lead get away.

The Philadelphia Flyers almost did, though, holding off a third period comeback by the Washington Capitals and skating off with a 6-4 win at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

The Capitals let the Flyers skate around as if it was a practice drill for the first 30 minutes or so, allowing the Flyers to post a 4-0 lead by the 11:52 mark of the second period.  Three Flyers had goals in the onslaught – two by Claude Giroux and one each by Jakub Voracek and Michael Raffl – and eight different Flyers had points. 

Washington finally got on the board 14 minutes into the second period when Joel Ward redirected a drive by Mike Green from the right wing faceoff dot on a power play.  The puck changed direction, diving to goalie Steve Mason’s left, bouncing, and then settling in the back of the net.

The Caps made it interesting in the third period when Alex Ovechkin scored his 44th goal of the season on another power play.  It was standard issue for the Caps, a pass that Nicklas Backstrom threaded through the crease to Ovechkin at the left wing faceoff dot where the winger one-timed it into the net before Mason could scramble across.

Troy Brouwer got the Caps to within a goal less than three minutes later when he was left all alone in front of Mason, three Flyers getting caught on the same side of the ice, at or past the faceoff dot attending to Jack Hillen (of all people), who found Brouwer for the snap shot and score to make it 4-3.

The Caps would not find that game-tying goal, though.  Voracek got his second of the game barely two minutes after Brouwer’s goal to restore the Flyers’ two-goal lead.  Brooks Laich got the Caps back within a goal barely two minutes after that when he redirected another Mike Green drive past Mason to give the Caps their third power play goal of the game.

That would do it for the Caps’ scoring.  Steve Downie added an empty net goal with 52 seconds left to give the Flyers their final 6-4 margin to sweep the home-and-home series and open up a four-point lead on the Caps in the Metropolitan Division standings.

Other stuff…

-- Nicklas Backstrom’s two assists, the second coming on assist on Troy Brouwer’s goal, were his 49th and 50th helpers of the season.  He is the third player to hit the 50-mark in assists this season, trailing only Joe Thornton (51) and Sidney Crosby (54).  It is the fourth time in his seven-year career that he reached the 50-assist mark, the first time he did it since he had 68 assists in 2009-2010.

-- For Ovechkin, the goal made it six in his last eight games.  Four of those goals, including last night’s, have been on the power play.  He is on a pace for 24 power play goals this season that, should he reach that mark, would be a career high.

-- Mike Green had another multi-assist night.  His two assists give him five in his last two games and nine in his last seven contests.  He is now tied for 12th among defensemen in assists despite having played in only 55 of 63 games for the Caps.

-- Tom Wilson recorded 17 minutes in penalties last night.  It put him at the top of the rookie list in that statistic, passing Tampa Bay’s Radko Gudas (122 minutes) with 133 minutes earned.  Here is a way of looking at how big that number is.  Wilson’s 133 minutes exceeds the Capitals rookie total of penalty minutes earned over the last three seasons, combined, including the penalty minutes earned by other rookies this season (90).

-- The three power play goals on four chances make it 7-for-18 (38.9 percent) over the Caps’ last four games.

-- The power play goal allowed makes it four straight games in which the Caps have allowed at least one.  They are 12-for-17 (70.6 percent) killing penalties over that span.

-- Claude Giroux single-handedly manhandled the Caps in the faceoff circle.  He was 19-for-25 (76.0 percent).  The only Cap to win at least 50 percent of the draws he took against Giroux was Jay Beagle (2-for-3).  Giroux was perfect against Backstrom (4-for-4), Brouwer (2-for-2), and Ward (2-for-2).

-- Mike Green was on ice for four goals against.  He did it with three different partners: Jack Hillen, John Carlson (twice), and Karl Alzner.

-- Speaking of Green, has there been a changing of the guard on the Caps’ power play?  It has been underway for a while now, but John Carlson had 5:23 in power play ice time, Green had 1:51.

-- Four goals on 18 shots in 31:52.  That was Braden Holtby’s night in goal.  It is the third time in four games and the fifth time in eight games in which Holtby has allowed at least four goals.  Oddly enough, he is 2-1-1 in those five games (he had a no-decision last night).

-- Conversely, in the “life is not fair” department, Philipp Grubauer stopped ten of 11 shots, but he gets the loss for allowing the Flyers’ fifth goal.

In the end…

March is going about as planned.  And that is not a good thing.  In the Caps’ 14 game death march that started in Boston on Saturday, the Caps have now gone: win, blown lead for overtime loss, almost run out of the building regulation loss.  They are going in the wrong direction, to say the least.  It doesn’t get better.  They get a rematch in Boston tonight, then a home-and-home back-to-back against Pittsburgh after they face the Martin Erat-fueled Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday.

Avert your eyes.