After obtaining a 2-goal lead early in the 2nd, the Caps gave up 4 unanswered goals to fall to the Flyers 4-2 last night. Special teams played a huge role in the game, as well as a handful of missed opportunities that could have swayed the game in the Caps favor.
Backstrom struck first on the powerplay against one of the best penalty killing units in the league. Ovechkin found the back of the net early in the 2nd for his 44th goal of the season. The Caps missed 2 shorthanded breakaways which would have given them a more substantial lead.
The Flyers penalty kill stood strong the rest of the game stopping 6 powerplay opportunities to keep the game within reach. The Caps took a seat in the box 4 times in the 2nd, and gave Philly a 5 on 3 chance that was capitalized on by Claude Giroux. Despite all the missed opportunities and penalties the Caps went into the 3rd with a 2-1 lead.
About halfway through the third, things started to get ugly for the Caps. Scott Hartnell tied the game up with a snipe on a 3 on 2, Jeff Carter banged in a rebound off Theodore to take the lead, and Arron Asham gave the Flyers some insurance after walking 2 Caps defenders. All 3 goals were scored in just over 3 minutes of playing time to give Philly a 2-goal lead.
Usually if this happens in a game, Caps fans would expect a comeback to unfold but 2 more dumb penalties halted any chance of such a scenario. I wouldn’t put any blame on Theo for his play. He made some incredible saves, including a one-timer with about 10 seconds to go. The lack of defensive urgency in front of the Caps netminder was evident and is something that must be addressed.
“This is the new NHL. They want to limit the obstruction and we just seem to take lazy, undisciplined sometimes they can be criticized as selfish penalties,” Brooks Laich said. “Every game we shoot the puck in our zone over the glass we’ve got to limit that. I don’t know, it’s got to stop.”
The Flyers didn’t get any production on the scoreboard from the red-hot Mike Richards, but they finally saw a spark from Jeff Carter who was scoreless in his previous 5 games–this was mostly due to a juggling of lines by head coach John Stevens putting Carter with Lupul and Hartnell.
* Jeff Carter *
**Scott Hartnell **
*** Antero Niittymaki ***