Thursday, February 17, 2022

A TWO Point Night: Washington Capitals -- Game 52: Capitals 5 - Flyers 3

The Washington Capitals paid a visit to an old rival on Thursday night when they faced the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center in a Metropolitan Division matchup. The Caps entered the game as one of the better road teams in the league, sporting a 15-5-4 record at puck drop, the second-best road team in the league by points percentage (.708).  The Flyers went into the game with an 8-11-4 home record, 26th in the league.  The Caps took an early lead, gave it up late in the third period, but stormed back with three unanswered goals in a span of 2:08 to win going away, 5-3.

First Period

The Caps had a glorious chance in the first minute when Tom Wilson fed Joe Snively with a cross-ice pass that should have been a lay-up, but Snively snapped the puck wide.  The Caps then went a man short when Michal Kempny was sent off for tripping at the 1:41 mark.  The Caps killed the penalty successfully to keep the game scoreless.

The teams went back and forth for more than 15 minutes before the Caps broke the ice, Michal Kempny scoring from long range in the middle of the ice off a feed from Nic Dowd that beat goalie Martin Jones past his blocker.  The teams went to their locker rooms with the Caps up, 1-0.

-- Philadelphia outshot the Caps in the period, 11-8, while the Caps out-attempted the Flyers, 18-15.

-- Michal Kempny and Garnet Hathaway each had two shots on goal to lead the team; Kempny led the team with three shot attempts.

-- There were only 14 faceoffs in the period, the Caps winning eight of them; Lars Eller and Tom Wilson each went two-for-two.

-- Philadelphia was not credited with a high-danger scoring chance in the period, while the Caps had five.

Second Period

Travis Konecny had a chance from the slot in the first minute for the Flyers, but the puck was uncooperative, and his shot sailed wide of goalie Ilya Samsonov.

The Flyers went to a power play when Trevor Van Riemsdyk took exception to a Scott Laughton hit on Kempny.  He and Laughton were hit with five-minute majors for fighting, but van Riemsdyk was also charged with an instigator penalty at 7:37 of the period.  He was also hit with a 10-minute misconduct for good measure.  The Flyers took advantage at the 8:54 mark when Gerry Mayhew was left alone in the left wing circle to take a feed from Oskar Lindblom and snap it past Samsonov on the short side to tie the game at 1-1.

Washington got its first power play of the evening when Isaac Ratcliffe went off for interference at the 9:57 mark.  The Caps went to a 45-second 5-on-3 advantage when Cam Atkinson was sent to the penalty box for delay of game-puck over glass at 11:12 of the period.  An Ovechkin one-timer hit the post to Jones’ right solidly and caromed out.  The 5-on-3 expired, and John Carlson saved a shorthanded goal when he poke checked the puck off Ratcliffe’s stick after he left the penalty box behind the Caps’ defense.  Joe Snively got the Caps back in front in the 5-on-4 portion of the power play when his persistence paid off, taking a rebound of his own shot, easing out to his left, and snapping the puck past Jones’ blocker to make it a 2-1 Caps lead 12:49 into the period.

The Flyers tied the game late in the period. Travis Sanheim finishing a 2-on-1, converting a cross-crease pass from Travis Konecny at 19:01 of the period, to send the teams to the second intermission tied, 2-2.

-- The Flyers outshot the Caps, 12-6, in the period and out-attempted them, 22-16.

-- Michal Kempny and Alex Ovechkin each had five shot attempts through two periods to lead the team. 

-- Lars Eller was 6-for-8 on faceoffs through two periods.

-- Tom Wilson was the only Capital credited with more than one hit through 40 minutes (three).

Third Period

The Flyers went to a power play when Kempny went off for holding at 7:49 of the period, putting the Flyers a man to the good for the third time.  The Caps went two men down when Tom Wilson was boxed for tripping at 8:10 of the period putting the Flyers on a 5-on-3 for 1:39.  No sooner did the Caps burn off both ends of the 5-on-3 that they were awarded a power play of their own.  Scott Laughton went off for tripping at 10:30 of the period.  Washington did not convert, and the teams remained tied.

Nic Dowd and Keith Yandle took coincidental minor penalties for roughing 14:02 into the period to put the teams 4-on-4.  The Flyers took the lead for the first time when Sanheim walked the puck around Nicklas Backstrom and fed Mayhew for a lay-in, fending off Trevor van Riemsdyk’s attempt to tie him up.  The Flyers had the lead, 3-2, at 16:09 of the period.

The Caps tied it 54 seconds later, when Garnet Hathaway got his body in the way of a John Carlson drive just enough to redirect the puck past Jones on the glove side to make it a 3-3 game.  The Caps regained the lead when Carl Hagelin stole the puck below the Flyers goal line and fed Hathaway for a one timer from the slot to beat Jones on the blocker side. 

John Carlson appeared to ice the match when he took the puck in the corner to the right of Samsonov and fired it off the glass and down the ice into the empty cage to make it 5-3 at 19:11.  The goal was reviewed in Toronto to see if Hathaway touched the puck with a high stick that would have negated the goal.  It was ruled that the goal counted, and Carlson was credited with the tally.  The Caps held on to earn the “W,” 5-3.

Other stuff…

-- The Caps scored first for the 35th time this season, tops in the league.

-- Michal Kempny scored a goal for the first time since potting a pair against Vancouver on October 25, 2019, breaking a string of 60 games without one.

-- The two teams combined for four goals in a span of 3:02 late in the third period, the Caps scoring the last three in a span of 2:08.

-- Garnet Hathaway recorded his first career three-point game and fifth career two-goal game (all on the road).

-- It was also Hathaway’s first career plus-4 game.  It was Carl Hagelin’s second career plus-4 game, first with the Caps.

-- Philly outshot the Caps, 33-25, and out-attempted them, 56-46.

-- Hathaway led the team with four shots on goal; Michal Kempny and Alex Ovechkin each had six shot attempts to lead the team.

-- Martin Fehervary had three hits and four blocked shots.

-- John Carlson led the Caps in ice time with 25:58.

-- Ilya Samsonov stopped 30 of 33 shots, giving him 127 saves on 137 shots faced (.927) over his last four games.

In the end…

The road warriors made it five in a row away from DC.  It was an ugly game, to be sure, and in its ugliness, it’s probably fitting that it was the fourth line that did the most damage – Garnet Hathaway, Carl Hagelin, and Nic Dowd combined to go 2-5-7, plus-11.  Still, grinding out a win after the Caps gave up the lead late in the third period, even against a struggling team, has to be looked at as a positive.  Now, they get a week to iron out problems, get healthy, and get rested before they resume play against the Rangers in New York.  They need to use it wisely.