Thursday, March 11, 2021

A TWO-Point Night: Washington Capitals -- Game 26: Capitals 5 - Flyers 3

The Washington Capitals headed to Philadelphia on Thursday evening with hopes of building on the success they had in their last visit to Wells Fargo Arena, a 3-1 win last Sunday.  The Flyers were coming off a disaster turned into a win, falling behind the Buffalo Sabres by two goals twice in the contest before tying the game in regulation and winning in a Gimmick, 5-4, on Tuesday.  The Caps once more took a three-goal lead late into the contest, and they almost gave it all back once more.  They hung on, killing a late Flyer power play along the way, before getting an empty net goal to seal a 5-3 win.

First Period

The game was not two minutes old when the Caps started their first power play of the evening, Travis Sandheim going to the penalty box for hooking.  Washington had three shots on goal on the ensuing power play, two from Alex Ovechkin and one from John Carlson, but none found paydirt.

The Caps drew first blood, courtesy of a ghastly Flyer turnover in their own end.  Goalie Brian Elliott fed the puck to Ivan Provorov in the faceoff circle to his left.  Provarov turned and fed the puck toward the middle, succeeding only in putting the puck on a tee for an Alex Ovechkin one-timer that beat Elliott to the far side, off the post, and in to make it 1-0, 8:37 into the game.

Philadelphia got their first power play, Brenden Dillon going off for interference at the 10:31 mark.  They converted their chance, Travis Konecny getting the equalizer at 11:14 of the period

Washington regained the lead shortly thereafter when Daniel Sprong sprung (sprang?) Conor Sheary with a gorgeous backhand pass for a breakaway, and Sheary snapped a shot that snuck through Elliott and dribbled over the goal line at 13:10 of the period to make it 2-1, Caps.

Things took a turn late in the period when Garnet Hathaway and Andy Andreoff dropped the gloves and went for their respective five-minute timeouts 17:15 into the period.  There was no further drama, and the Caps went to the first intermission with the 2-1 lead.

-- Flyers led in shots on goal for the first period, 11-10, and the shot attempts edge, 19-15.

-- The Caps out-hit the Flyers, 12-8, Garnet Hathaway leading the team with three.

-- Washington won just nine of 22 faceoffs, Evgeny Kuznetsov having an especially difficult time, going 1-for-7.

-- Kuznetsov led the Caps in ice time for the period with 7:35; Jonas Siegenthaler, who got a sweater when Lars Eller had to return to Washington on a family matter, did not skate a single shift.

Second Period

Washington went to the man advantage early in the middle frame, Travis Konecny going off for tripping at 1:50 of the period.  The Caps got one shot on goal but failed to light the lamp.

The Caps took a 3-1 lead when they stormed the Flyers’ zone on a 3-on-2 rush.  Jakub Vrana took a pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov and carried the puck down the right side.  From below the goal line he threaded a pass out to John Carlson trailing the play.  Carlson paused, then wristed a shot past Elliott on the long side at the 6:58 mark.

Nic Dowd gave the Caps a three-goal lead, more a product of luck (not to mention awful defense) than pure skill.  Skating down the left side, he turned defenseman Travis Sandheim inside out, threading the puck through Sandheim’s skates and recovering it on the other side of the defenseman.  Curling to the crease, he got a shot away but it failed to go in until the other defenseman, Shayne Gostisbehere, kicked the puck past Elliott’s left pad with his skate.  The Caps were up, 4-1, at the 17:33 mark.

When a pane of glass was shattered with 1:29 left in the period, the teams were sent to their locker rooms, the last 1:29 to be tacked on to the beginning of the third period.

--  Jonas Siegenthaler…still no shifts in this game.

-- The Flyers and Caps had five shots on goal apiece for the period, and both teams had 11 shot attempts for the period.

-- Justin Schultz led the Caps in ice time through 40 minutes (15:11).

-- Alex Ovechkin (five) and John Carlson (four) accounted for nine of the Caps’ 15 shots on goal for the game through two periods.

Third Period (and some of the second)

The teams skated off the 1:29 left over from the second period without any scoring and proceeded to the third period.  The third period started with coincidental minor penalties to Zdeno Chara and Travis Konecny for high-sticking and slashing, respectively.

The Flyers cut into the Caps’ lead when Ivan Provorov scored at the 1:43 mark of the period, taking a feed from Sean Couturier from the right-wing wall and wristing the puck past goalie Ilya Samsonov’s blocker.  Philly got within one 10:45 into the third period, Scott Laughton getting the tally, taking a feed from Kevin Hayes and snapping a shot off the far post and behind Samsonov.

The teams went down a man coincidentally once more at the 10:58 mark when Evgeny Kuznetsov and Claude Giroux were dispatched to their respective penalty boxes for cross-checking (Kuznetsov) and slashing (Giroux).  And then the Flyers went to a power play, the Caps guilty of too many men on the ice at 12:43 of the period.  The Caps escaped the Flyer man advantage without allowing the tying goal.

Nic Dowd got his second of the game, an empty net goal scored from about 195 feet at the 19:32 mark and with an assist from goalie Ilya Samsonov.  That would be the last of the scoring in the Caps’ 5-3 win.

Other stuff…

-- John Carlson’s goal was his 500th career point in the NHL, the first defenseman in Caps history to reach that mark (Calle Johansson is second with 474 points as a Capital).  He is the ninth skater in Caps history to reach 500 points with the club.

-- Nic Dowd’s two-goal game was his second as a Capital, both on the road.  His other two-goal game came in a 5-2 in in Pittsburgh over the Penguins on March 7, 2020.

-- Philadelphia out-shot the Caps, 32-22, and out-attempted them, 49-37, in a very low-event game.

-- Alex Ovechkin led the Caps with seven shots on goal and 11 shot attempts.

-- The Caps won only 27 of 60 faceoffs (45.0 percent), but it was not as bad as all that once Evgeny Kuznetov’s difficult night (5-for-17/29.4 percent) is accounted for.

-- T.J. Oshie led the Caps in ice time (22:45); Jonas Siegenthaler finished with one shift and 15 seconds of ice time.

-- Brenden Dillon was credited with six hits to lead the Caps.

-- Washington went 0-for-2 on power plays, dropping their road power play for the season to 8.8 percent (3-for-34).  They have gone seven straight road games without a power play goal.

-- When the Flyers scored a power play goal in the third period, it broke a four-game streak on the road of not allowing a power play goal.

-- Ilya Samsonov stopped 30 of 33 shots to improve his career record against the Flyers to 2-0-1, 1.82, .944 in three games.

In the end…

Once more the Caps made things far more interesting than they should have been in the third period, almost blowing yet another three-goal lead.  It is a fault that just screams for attention before the Caps find themselves incapable of wriggling out from under those blown leads.  It will be something to watch for when the teams meet again on Saturday.