Saturday, February 26, 2022

A NO Point Afternoon: Washington Capitals -- Game 54: Flyers 2 - Capitals 1

The Washington Capitals traveled to Philadelphia to try to go two-for-two at Wells Fargo Center in the space of less than two weeks.  Instead, the Caps allowed the games first goal 11 seconds into the contest, allowed another in the last two minutes of the first period, and played catch-up for the last two periods, a T.J. Oshie power play goal being all the Caps could muster against goalie Carter Hart in a 2-1 loss.

First Period

It did not take long for the Flyers to take the early lead.  Just 11 seconds into the contest, Cam Atkinson outmuscled Martn Fehervary for the puck in the high slot, and Atkinson backhanded the puck to a charging Claude Giroux, who snapped the puck past goalie Ilya Samsonov to give the home team the early – very early – lead.

The Caps went to a power play shortly thereafter, Isaac Ratcliffe going off for tripping at the 30 second mark.  The Caps could not get the equalizer, though, and the Flyers maintained their lead.

The Flyers dominated possession and territory, but could not add to their lead.  The skating was interrupted momentarily by a bout between Tom Wilson for the Caps and Zack MacEwen for the Flyers at the 16:30 mark that appeared to end in a draw.  Both players went off on fighting majors, but MacEwen had a roughing minor tacked on to put the Caps on a power play.  The Caps could not find the back of the net, and they paid for it as the penalty expired.  Cam Atkinson scored on a two-man rush when Conor Sheary tried to move the puck out of harm’s way and put it on the stick of Cam Atkinson, who chipped it over the left shoulder of Samsonov, and it was 2-0, Flyers, 18:38 into the period.  That would end the scoring for the period.

-- The Flyers outshot the Caps, 14-9, and out-attempted them, 27-15.

-- Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom led the team with two shots apiece; Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Michal Kempny had two attempts apiece.

-- The Caps were 5-for-21 on faceoffs in the period (23.8 percent).

-- Tom Wilson was credited with four of the 11 hits registered by the Caps in the period.

Second Period

Washington went to a power play 6:39 into the period when Ratcliffe took another penalty, an interference call.  It took the Caps only 14 seconds to convert, T.J. Oshie finding open space in the bumper slot to accept a pass from Nicklas Backstrom and snap it past goalie Carter Hart’s left shoulder to make it a 2-1 game at the 6:53 mark.

The Flyers went a man up for the first time in the contest 11:20 into the period when Nic Dowd was sent off on a roughing penalty.  The Caps went two men down when Fehervary was sent to the box for interference at 12:31 of the period.  The Caps managed to kill off both ends of the 5-on-3 Flyer advantage to preserve the one-goal deficit.  And that is how the period would end, the Flyers still up, 2-1.

-- The Caps outshot the Flyers, 11-4, in the period and out-attempted them, 21-19.

-- Washington improve on that ghastly first period in the faceoff circle, winning 13 of 23 draws (56.5 percent).

-- Nicklas Backstrom led the team in shots on goal through 40 minutes with four; Evgeny Kuznetsov had six shot attempts (two on goal, two blocked, two misses).

-- Trevor van Rimesdyk had five of the Caps’ 18 blocked shots through two periods.

Third Period

In a period without much in the way of offense – 12 shots combined for the two teams – and more icing than you’d see on a wedding cake, the Flyers held on to take the 2-1 win.

Other stuff…

-- The 2-1 win for the Flyers was their first in regulation time since February 1st, when they defeated Winnipeg, 3-1, and only their second regulation win in their last 25 games dating back to December 14th, when they beat New Jersey, 6-1.

-- Washington outshot the Flyers, 26-22, and out-attempted them, 62-55.

-- Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, and Evgeny Kuznetsov all had four shots on goal to lead the team; Kuznetsov had eight shot attempts.

-- After a dismal start in the circle, the Caps recovered somewhat to go 23-for-58 on faceoffs (39.7 percent).  No Capital finished over 50 percent for the game.

-- Trevor van Riemsdyk finished with five blocked shots to lead the team.

-- Tom Wilson was credited with seven hits, Alex Ovechkin with five.

-- Nic Dowd was the only Capital not to register a shot attempt.

-- T.J. Oshie’s goal was his first since January 10th and his first on the road since he had a hat trick in Ottawa against the Senators on October 25th  in a 7-5 win.

-- Nicklas Backstrom’s assist on the Oshie goal broke a three-game streak without a point and was his first point on the road since January 28th, when he went 1-2-3 in a 5-0 win in Dallas over the Stars (five-game road pointless streak broken).

-- The loss to the Flyers was the first to this team of Ilya Samsonov’s career (now 6-1-0).

In the end…

We are here.  The low point of the Caps season.  An opponent that can’t win in regulation scores 11 seconds into the game to take a lead they would not relinquish, then scores in the last two minutes of the period.  Talk about starting and finishing periods poorly.  A listless offense, a discombobulated defense missing coverages, an apparent lack of desire to aggressively pursue rebounds, ineffective zone entries, one-and-done shooting.  There is not a phase of the game in any zone that should give Capitals Nation any comfort at this point.  And with the week coming up – Toronto, Carolina, and Seattle on the schedule – this team might not yet have hit bottom.  That is a scary thing to ponder for a team that should be fine tuning and sharpening itself for the postseason.