After last night’s ugly loss at the hands of the Atlanta Thrashers, the Caps had a quick turnaround to get ready for a hard-hitting, high-scoring Flyers team. They were also without the services of the gritty Mike Knuble, who was injured during last evening’s loss. Gabby expected his troops to rebound and step up for the injured Knuble, and for the most part they did just that.
Marcus Johansson had quite an impressive game, scoring the Capitals’ first goal – as he was on his way down from getting wrecked. Later in the second period, the young Swede single-handedly skated and protected the puck through three Philly defenders. End of the first: Caps 1 – Flyers 0
The Caps power play struggled through the second period. While the team saw shots from Green, Semin, Ovi and Laich (characteristically parking his tush in front of Brian Boucher) but no success in permeating the wall of knarly Flyers crowding their crease. Semin also got whistled with his signature slash at 4:21, while John Carlson joined him in the box for hooking giving the thugnasty visitors a 5 on 3. The Caps were able to kill off the penalty with mucho help from Michal Neuvirth.
Minus his flaming red locks, the always agitating Scott Hartnell tried to poke Neuvy after the whistle resulting in a scrum and another Caps power play at 7:39.
Brooks Laich couldn’t put the brakes on fast enough with less than 7 minutes left in the second and took a seat for interference. Claude Giroux got quite the lucky break on the power play as the puck bounced off his pants for the Flyers’ goal.
Meanwhile, Eric Fehr annihilated Ville Leino after he'd dumped the puck, resulting in a boarding call and Flyers squawking for justice. As the penalty expired, Hartnell slid the puck across to PK Subban’s BFF Mike Richards, who roofed it over a sprawling Neuvirth to give the black and orange a one-goal lead. End of the second: Flyers 2 – Caps 1
At the start of the third period, AO was tripped up and the power play unit went to work. Once more, the man advantage did not yield the desired results for the boys in red. MJ90 had one of the better scoring chances as he sped through the neutral zone and shot towards an awaiting Boucher. After being scratched by Gabby earlier in the week, Tomas Fleischmann was a shooting fool but could not seem to outschool the Philly net minder.
With just under 11 minutes left in the final stanza, Jeff Carter notched his tenth goal of the
season as he deftly evaded Mike Green. The boys got yet another shot at the power play with less than 10 minutes left. The Caps set up camp in front of the crease and Nick Backstrom tallied the first power play marker of the night. As Kimmo Timmonen was set to get out of the sin bin, the Flyers’ captain tripped up a red sweater giving the Caps yet another man advantage (as Peter Laviolette proceeded to blow a gasket). Jason Chimera scored the tying goal a mere 28 seconds after Backstrom’s goal.
At the six minute mark, Andreas Nodl evaded Jeff Schultz and Mike Green to set up his toy shop behind the net and score to once again to gain the lead. Matt Bradley then took a seat for interference at 14:31.
The Caps killed off a biggie and should have had their sights set on netting the tying goal. Instead, they found themselves short-handed again thanks to another ill-timed slashing call on Sasha Semin. As the boys went back to work, John Carlson was the recipient of a high-stick, from none other than the recently suspended-for-such-nonsense Danny Briere. As the final seconds of the game ticked off the clock, Neuvy went to the bench and Eric Fehr tied the game with a rocket from the wide right angle. As if this game wasn't exciting enough, these two rivals were headed to OT. At 1:48 of the OT period, Ovi and his running mate Nick Backstrom were criss-crossing the ice attempting to set up a play when Backstrom clipped a Flyer, drawing an interference call. The boys did an outstanding job of killing off the penalty and forced the high-flying game into a shoot out.
In the shoot out, Nick Backstrom stepped up first for Washington and was stopped by a Boucher glove save. Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux tried to dipsy doodle deke Neuvy but was denied by the Caps young net minder. Next, it was Alex Ovechkin’s turn. Ovi skated wide but ended up shooting right to the glove of Brian Boucher. Then it was the villainous Daniel Briere's turn. Unfortunately his orchestrated moves worked for a Flyers goal. The game then fell into the hands of stick handler extraordinaire Alex Semin. But alas, Sasha's shot was a miss, bringing a hard-fought game to an abrupt end and giving the Flyers the 5-4 win.
All in all, a much improved effort over last night’s debacle in Atlanta. The boys rest up tomorrow and will face the injury-depleted New Jersey Devils on Monday.