Washington opened the scoring early in the first period, Daniel Sprong continuing his productive play of late. Evgeny Kuznetsov started the scoring play by muffling a pass in the neutral zone and feeding the puck forward to Jakub Vrana just outside the Flyer blue line. Vrana skated down the left side and wristed a puck the hit goalie Brian Elliott in the midsection. Elliott could not smother the puck though, and it leaked out in front of him. Sprong cut in past defenseman Travis Sandheim and chipped the puck up, off, and over Elliott’s right shoulder and into the net to make it 1-0, 4:40 into the game.
Justin Schultz took the game’s first penalty when he was sent off for interference at 9:14. The Caps successfully killed off that penalty, allowing the Flyers two shots on goal in the two minutes they spent shorthanded.
Carl Hagelin doubled the margin just under eight minutes later, finishing a play started when Nick Dowd blunted a Flyer escape from the defensive zone with a poke check at the blue line. Garnet Hathaway kept the puck in the Flyers’ end, chasing the puck down at the left wing wall and backhanding it out to Nick Jensen entering the zone on the right side. Jensen stepped up and let fly with a shot that Elliott stopped, but once more he allowed a rebound, and Hagelin got inside position on Shayne Gostisbehere at the top of the blue paint to sneak the put-back between Elliott’s pads at the 13:21 mark. That would be how the teams ended the first period.
-- Washington outshot the Flyers, 9-8, but the Flyers had the shot attempts edge, 17-15.
-- Alex Ovechkin was the only Capitals with two shots on goal, and he had four attempts to lead the team.
-- Brenden Dillon and Garnet Hathaway led the team with three credited hits apiece.
-- T.J. Oshie led the Caps in ice time with 8:19.
It was Philadelphia’s turn to open a period’s scoring when the Flyers’ took advantage of some sloppy attempts at clearing the puck. A last attempted clear only made it to the stick of James van Riemsdyk at the near edge of the left wing circle from where he spun and snapped a shot past goalie Ilya Samsonov at the 2:36 mark.
That one-goal margin lasted 29 seconds, Nick Jensen getting the Caps on the board. Jensen raced between two Flyers to catch up to a sliding puck in the neutral zone, sped into the offensive zone, and ripped a shot off the post on the long side past Elliott to make it 3-1 at the 3:05 mark. That ended Elliott’s evening after allowing a goal on the only shot he faced in the period in favor of Carter Hart.
The Flyers got it right back, though, cutting the lead back to one goal when the Caps once more could not get the puck out of their own end. A loose puck ended up on the stick of Jakub Voracek, who fed Nolan Patrick for a one-timer that hit Samsonov on the left pad and trickled under him into the net to make it 3-2, Caps, 5:47 into the period.
The Flyers had a chance to tie the game when Nic Dowd was sent to the penalty box for holding at 10:23 of the period. The Flyers lost the man advantage when Travis Sandheim was caught holding at 11:48. On the Caps’ ensuing power play, Alex Ovechkin took a feed from Nicklas Backstrom and from his office in the left wing circle ripped a shot through two Flyer defenders and past the right elbow of Hart, just inside the near post, to make it 4-2, 13:10 into the period.
That would be how the teams went to the second intermission, 4-2, Caps.
-- Philadelphia outshot the Caps, 15-7, in the period and out-attempted them, 27-15.
-- Garnet Hathaway led the team through two periods with five credited hits, a third of the Caps’ total for the game through 40 minutes.
-- Jakub Vrana had an odd line…13 shifts, but only 7:03 in ice time for the game through two periods.
-- It was the shock troops with the best ratings though two periods. Brenden Dillon, Hathaway, Nic Dowd, and Carl Hagelin were all plus-2.
Nic Dowd opened the scoring for the Caps in the final frame, deflecting a Garnet Hathaway drive from high in the middle of the zone down and between the pads of Carter Hart and over the goal line at 4:25 of the period to make it a 5-2 game.
Washington got its second power play of the game when Oskar Lindblom was sent off at the 9:01 mark for slashing. The Caps failed to convert on the power play, T.J. Oshie coming closest when he fired a puck off the post. The Flyers got their own power play chance shortly thereafter when Jensen went to the box for interference at 12:05. The Flyers converted when Shayne Gostisbehere fired a puck that tumbled end over end through a maze of players and past Samsonov’s left elbow to make it 5-3, 13:07 into the period.
The Flyers pulled Hart from the net, and it paid off with 2:57 left when Claude Giroux one-timed a shot past Samsonov to make it 5-4. That would be as close as Philly would get, though, as the Caps hung on for the 5-4 win.
-- Daniel Sprong’s goal broke an odd pattern of late. Over a ten-game stretch, he faithfully went goal-no-goal-no goal three times. With his first period goal, he broke that pattern, going no goal-goal in his last two contests ending with this game. He did, however, extend his points streak to three games, his longest to date as a Capital.
-- Lars Eller skated three shifts for a total of 1:29 in ice time before leaving the ice for the duration with a “lower body injury.”
-- Alex Ovechkin’s second period power play goal was his 716th goal of his career, putting him one behind Phil Esposito for sixth place all-time in the NHL. It was his 263rd career power play goal, two behind Brett Hull for second place all-time in the NHL.
-- This made three straight games with five-goal games, the first time the Caps did it since Games 9-11 last season when they scored five goals in succession against the New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks, and Calgary Flames.
-- The Flyers outshot the Caps, 32-23, for the game and out-attempted them, 64-45.
-- Alex Ovechkin led the Caps with four shots on goal, but he also led the team with five missed shots (nine attempts overall). No Capital taking more than one draw finished over 50 percent on faceoffs. As a team, they were 21-for-46.
-- Garnet Hathaway finished with a team-high six credited hits. Thirteen different players shared in the 19 blocked shots for the Caps; Nic Dowd and Zdeno Chara had three apiece to lead the team.
-- Late game troubles… Ilya Samsonov allowed two goals on 23 shots over the first two periods and allowed two on nine shots faced in the third period.
-- John Carlson led the team with 22:37 in ice time, but the absence of Lars Eller for almost the entire game resulted in Nicklas Backstrom (22:31) and T.J. Oshie (22:09) also getting more than 22 minutes among the forwards.
-- The Caps had four multi-point games: Nick Jensen (1-1-2), Garnet Hathaway (0-2-2), Carl Hagelin (1-1-2), and John Carlson (0-2-2). It was Backstrom’s ninth multi-point game of the season, Carlson’s seventh, Dowd’s second, and Hagelin’s second.
In the end…
Another three-goal lead, another nail-biter in the end. The Caps are playing with matches surrounded by leaking gasoline cans. Sooner or later, one of them is going to blow up, and it could set the rest ablaze unless the Caps find a way to stop the third period bleeding away of big leads.