Having surrendered a two-goal lead in their usual fashion, the Washington Capitals made the Philadelphia Flyers’ comeback win far easier than it should have been. The Caps were fresh off an impressive 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins, and the Flyers had beaten the New York Rangers by an identical margin the day before.
With both teams vying for a playoff spot, the game held serious sway over the standings. It appeared as though the Caps would get two points and surpass the Flyers in the standings, but a dormant power play and a remarkably foolish penalty helped doom them in the end.
Dmitry Orlov was a surprising source of offense, rendering him a temporary hero against the villainous Flyers–until he committed the aforementioned penalty in question. Regardless, he opened scoring at 6:06 in the first period. Troy Brouwer and Martin Erat continued their point streaks, as each received credit for the primary and secondary assists respectively.
Sadly, Tom Wilson’s roughing minor enabled Claude Giroux to notch his 20th goal of the year at 11:22. With the game tied at 1-1, the Capitals for once scored a quick-response goal instead of allowing one. Marcus Johansson’s slick tip-in came from a neat pass courtesy of Jason Chimera. Mike Green was credited with the secondary assist, which would be the first of three in today’s showing.
Thus concluded scoring in the first period, during which the Caps were on the receiving end of three power plays. They didn’t score on any–a frightening trend which would continue for the remainder of the game. To make matters worse for the Caps’ special teams, Adam Hall scored a shorthanded goal at 12:50 in the second period, which tied the game once again.
Yet, the game of back-and-forth resumed: Jay Beagle scored his second goal of the year less than a minute later. Green set up Joel Ward, who sent an incredibly nifty pass to Beagle. The Caps reclaimed the lead, and all appeared to be well when Orlov launched a snap shot past Steven Mason–once again coming off a pass from Green.
Where did it go wrong?
Orlov’s second goal marked the end of second-period scoring and the beginning of his downward spiral in what could have been one of his best games as a Washington Capital. After a second period filled with penalties–coming mostly at the hands of the Capitals–Orlov made an egregious, immature error in crushing Brayden Schenn. The hit was dirty, vengeful, and deserving of the penalty Orlov took: a five-minute boarding major.
It was also costly, as it set the stage for Jakub Voracek’s power-play goal and the Capitals’ ultimate crumble. Voracek’s goal came at 11:58 in the third, and seven minutes separated his goal from Giroux’s second of the evening. During that time, the Capitals looked disorganized and sloppy on the ice–not relentless and gritty, like they need to be, especially when playing a team like the Flyers.
Of course, neither team was able to score in the remainder of the period. It was difficult imagining how the outcome would have been different, had Nicklas Backstrom’s first-period “goal” actually counted. Instead, the Caps were headed to what would turn out to be a brief overtime period. Vinny Lecavalier scored at 2:45, thus sealing the Caps’ fate and the Flyer’s place in the standings.
What lies ahead
Pinpointing where exactly the Caps went wrong is tricky, as they didn’t truly descend into poor play until late in the game. It’s sadly become a habit for the Caps, and it contributed to the Flyers taking the much-needed two points. The win sent the Flyers into second in the Metropolitan Division, as they have 70 points. The Rangers are one point behind, while the Caps clock in at fourth with 68 points.
While the Caps and the Detroit Red Wings have 68 points apiece, the nature of the NHL’s tiebreakers mean that the Wings have claimed the Eastern Conference’s second and final Wild Card spot–for now, anyway. The Caps have the opportunity to bounce back from this tough loss, as they face none other than the Flyers in their next contest in a Wednesday Night Rivalry matchup.
Will much have changed since today’s heartbreaking loss? Probably not, save for the possibility of Orlov being suspended. In the meantime, the Capitals will do what they’ve been doing all season: plow on, cash in on luck, and ignore how costly their small mistakes can be.