Washington Capitals Fall to Philadelphia Flyers


Feb 8, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green (52) and Philadelphia Flyers center Chris Vande Velde (76) battle for the puck in front of Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (70) in the second period at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals fell to the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1 at the Verizon Center this afternoon after playing sixty minutes of spiritless and disinterested hockey. The Washington Capitals have played 7 games in 11 days and it certainly showed in the effort put forth today; unlike the previous three games, the Washington Capitals showed no aggression and played with what appeared to be lead in their skates.

First Period

The first period started off lackluster, though the Washington Capitals got their first power play only 2:49 in as Ryan White was sent to the penalty box for cross checking Jason Chimera. The Washington Capitals had zero shots on goal during this power play as well as the power play nearly four minutes later when Jakub Voracek sat for the Flyers for having too many men on the ice. Eleven minutes into the game, the Washington Capitals still had zero shots on goal despite their two power plays, while the Flyers had five shots on goal. Despite the one-man advantage, the Washington Capitals were unable to hold the puck and were playing in their zone more often than not – none of the aggression and excitement from the past three games showed up today. The only spark from the Washington Capitals came from Matt Niskanen, when Scott Laughton launched himself at Niskanen 11:06 into the period at a faceoff, apparently retribution for a clean hit from Niskanen in an earlier game. Both players were sent off for fighting for five minutes. Laughton recently recovered from a concussion and apparently even thanked Niskanen for the fight. What? Niklas Backstrom took the Washington Capitals’ first shot on goal, albeit a weak one, thirteen minutes into the period. At the end of the first period, the Washington Capitals had five shots on goal to the Flyers’ 7 despite two power plays and looked like they needed a nap more than anything else.

Second Period

Only 50 seconds into the second period, Brayden Schenn scored the first goal of the game, assisted by Mark Streit and Michael Del Zotto. A bad deflection caused Holtby to look high while the puck snuck in low, not helped by the screen made by a tussling Brooks Orpik and Jakub Voracek. Ryan White returned to the penalty box for interference with almost seven minutes into the period, giving the Washington Capitals their third fruitless power play of the afternoon. Flyers goalie Steve Mason left the ice when the penalty was called, leaning heavily on trainers. He was out for the remainder of the game with a lower-body injury, handing the goal to Ray Emery, a goaltender with a 4-8-0 record against the Washington Capitals. Flyers Matt Read was responsible for the next power play for interference and Michael Del Zotto gave the Washington Capitals a 5 on 3 advantage for high-sticking. While the Washington Capitals were unable to do much with a two-man advantage, they finally got into the game as Niklas Backstrom stole the puck from a defenseman in the corner, which was then picked up by Evgeny Kuznetsov and to a wide open Alex Ovechkin to take a shot only 26 feet from the goal on the remaining power play. That puts Ovi tied again for first in the league for goals (33), as well as for power plays (15). Kuznetsov received his eighth point in eight games and Ovi has 14 in the last 11. This period saw the return of Jay Beagle to the front line, a Trotz move widely disliked by fans (this one included) and one that the coach appears to think gets the Caps moving. Despite three more power plays this period, the Caps came away with only five additional shots on goal while the Flyers still dominated with eight shots of their own.

Third Period

Although Marcus Johansson took over for Beagle on the first line, the third period proved to be the final downfall of the Washington Capitals as they scored no more goals but gave up two to the Flyers. Just under four minutes into the period, Wayne Simmonds shot the puck right under Holtby’s glove to score the second Flyers’ goal of the game, assisted by Matt Read and Sean Couturier. Five minutes into the third period, Chimera had the first shot on goal since Ovi’s goal in the second period, as well as the Washington Capitals’ first even-strength shot on Emery; it was only the team’s eleventh shot on goal for the entire game. Andrew MacDonald was sent to the box for tripping Ovi 7:20 into the period, allowing the Washington Capitals’ sixth straight power play of the game; as in the previous five power plays, the team was unable to come together and score a goal. With only 73 seconds left to the game, Tom Wilson put the final nail in the Washington Capitals’ coffin as he went to the penalty box for boarding Wayne Simmonds, who in turn was sent to the box for roughing Wilson. Holtby was pulled from the net to give the Washington Capitals’ an advantage for the last 45 seconds, leaving the goal wide open for Voracek to score the Flyers’ third goal of the game – and his first goal in ten games – with just over thirty seconds left of the game.

This game came at the end of an exhausting two weeks for the Washington Capitals and at the beginning of a big road trip for the Flyers. It was a sorry effort by the Washington Capitals, who thankfully have a much lighter upcoming schedule and will hopefully find some time to recover and get back in action. Today’s game keeps Washington in third place and Philadelphia in fifth. This is the Flyers’ fifth victory in six games and they have been quickly moving up the ranks. The Washington Capitals will play the San Jose Sharks next on Wednesday.