No kids, those aren't jack o'lanterns, just those mean and ornery Philadelphia Flyers sporting the orange and black sweaters. The boys from Philly paid a visit to the raucous Verizon Center tonight hoping to return to the City of Brotherly Love with another win against the Capitals.
The Capitals offensive threat was bolstered by the return of Alex Semin (uh, we're still not sure what exactly was ailing the temperamental sniper). But the boys went without the services of Eric Fehr (upper body injury), Boyd Gordon (back issues), John Erskine (hand) and Quintin Laing (flu, hopefully not the swine variety like Av's backup goaltender Peter Budaj). Semin was reunited on the first line with his pal AO.
The Caps came out with the gusto that Gabby's been looking for and with no love lost between these two, the hitting was fierce and frequent. It was astounding to think that the first penalty between these two rivals didn't occur until around the 17-minute mark of the first period! The Flyers' Ole-Kristian Tollefsen took a seat for a cross-check but the Caps' power play continued to struggle and the boys didn't even get a shot off with the man-advantage. Shots on goal pretty even and at the end of the first, this one was scoreless.
Early in the second period, the boys took their first penalty as Brendan Morrison took a seat for hooking. Despite a series of lovely saves by Jose Theodore, Rapunzel - oops, I meant Scott Hartnell fired a humdinger to score the first PP goal and tally of the game.
As per the norm whenever these rivals meet, the hitting and extracurricular activity ramped up in the second as Ovechkin made an absolutely beast of a hit on Mike Richards (HM has a feeling that these two will never be Facebook pals). The boys got a brief 5-on-3 opportunity midway through the second as the Flyers took a too many men call then Darroll Powe took a run at Jose Theodore. Again, the Caps were unable to score the power play goal and they certainly had no assistance from one Ray Emery, who did a great imitation of a wall despite all the traffic. The Flyers got another power play chance as Tyler Sloan got called for the hook and Braydon Coburn shot a rocket to take a 2-0 lead.
Not to be outdone, Alex Ovechkin netted a beauty of his own less than two minutes later, right over the shoulder of an unsuspecting Ray Emery. And yes again, two minutes after Ovie lit the lamp, it was Nick Backstrom's turn. When the Flyer's propensity for trouble drew them a hooking penalty, Caps fans got a glimpse of the power play we all used to know and love as Backstrom scored a fabulous wrister with help from Semin and Aucoin! That makes Nick's third three-point game of the season, let's keep it going shall we #19? End of second period: 2-2
Alex Semin gave the men in red the lead early in the third as his puck hit a piece of a Flyer's d-man and whizzed over Emery's shoulder. Tom Poti committed a major party foul shortly after by tripping up Darrell Powe en route to a breakaway attempt, leaving Caps fans on the edge of their seats on the resulting penalty shot. Jose Theodore stonewalled Powe to retain the lead.
With about 40 seconds left in the game, Alex Ovechkin got a stick on the puck and plowed it right into an empty net to put a fork in this one.
Final Score: Caps 4 - Flyers 2
My vote for tonight's MVP has to be Jose Theodore, who stopped a remarkable 40 shots. What a performance from Theo and not a shoddy night for Nick Backstrom either, who ended up with a four-point night! So congrats to the boys for an always fulfilling victory over the team we all love to loathe!