Sunday, February 22, 2015

A NO-Point Night -- Game 61: Flyers 3 - Capitals 2

The Washington Capital could not turn four into five this afternoon at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.  Their four-game winning streak came to an end with a 3-2 loss to the Flyers in an afternoon contest.  With the loss, the Caps lost the season series to the Flyers, dropping three of four contests (1-2-1).

It was special teams that let the Caps down against the Flyers.  Washington gave up two power play goals, their first since allowing a power play strike to the San Jose Sharks on February 11th, breaking a streak of five games of perfect penalty killing.

The first of those power play goals came just 4:39 into the game when Claude Giroux converted from the top of the left wing circle.  The Flyers scored their second power play goal less than two minutes into the second period just after a 5-on-3 advantage expired when Wayne Simmonds whacked a rebound out of mid-air and past goalie Braden Holtby to make it 2-0, Flyers.

The Caps crawled back into the game less than four minutes later when a heavy forecheck produced an opportunity.  Michael Latta pressured Brayden Schenn into a poor pass from below his own goal line that ended up on the stick of John Carlson, who found Tom Wilson alone in the left wing circle.  Wilson one-timed the puck past goalie Rob Zepp to halve the Flyers lead 5:23 into the second period.

The Caps tied the game late in the second period when neither team was able to corral a bounding puck in the Flyers’ end.  Joel Ward did not bother trying to settle the puck, choosing to turn and fire it from the left wing circle, beating Zepp over his left shoulder at the 15:22 mark.

It might have gone to extra time that way, but the Flyers would avoid that fate when Jakub Voracek avoided two Capitals along the right wing boards to find Michael Del Zotto entering the offensive zone late.  Del Zotto took the pass on the left side and ripped a shot over goalie Braden Holtby’s left shoulder for the game-winning goal with 4:13 left, the Flyers coming out on top by the 3-2 margin.

Other stuff…

-- Tom Wilson’s goal broke a personal 34-game streak without a goal and a seven-game streak without a point.

-- Joel Ward’s goal was his seventh career goal against the Flyers.  He has scored more goals only against the Detroit Red Wings (11) in his career.

-- This was just the 17th game out of 61 in which neither Nicklas Backstrom nor Alex Ovechkin registered a point this season.  The Caps are now 9-5-3 in those games.

-- This was the first game in the 2015 portion of the season in which the Caps allowed an opponent two power play goals.  The last time it happened was December 29th in a 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Islanders.

--  A Caps-Flyers game generally involves hitting, and this game was no exception.  Fifteen skaters for each team were credited with hits, of which there were 79 in all (42 for the Caps).

-- When Brooks Laich assisted on Joel Ward’s goal, it made it points in consecutive games for the first time since he had points in consecutive games on January 4/7.  In those instances the points came on goals in each game, the last time Laich has scored a goal this season.

-- When the Flyers took a penalty in the last minute of the contest, Caps fans might have been counting on overtime.  However, the Caps failed to register a shot on goal in the 58 seconds of power play time, four of the five shot attempts being blocked by the Flyers, the other a miss at the buzzer.

-- It was a difficult day on the power play for the Caps, who managed only two shots on goal on five power plays and 8:58 of power play ice time (Ovechkin, Niskanen).

-- Jason Chimera’s fight against Zac Rinaldo was his first fight of the season and his first in a game against the Flyers in his career.

-- Andre Burakovsky sat out this game, the 16th game he has missed this season and second straight against the Flyers.  The Caps are 8-4-4 in games he sat out this season.

In the end…

It was special teams not being special that did the Caps in against the Flyers.  Two goals allowed in four shorthanded situations was bad enough, but coming up empty with just two shots on goal in five power plays was arguably worse, given that the Flyers were the 28th-ranked team in the league on the penalty kill.  It was part of an overall lackluster effort following a hard-fought win over the division leaders the previous afternoon.  Fortunately, the Caps get two days off before they host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, and one hopes the special teams will be more up to the task when that opponent comes to town.

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