Photo credit: Bruce Bennett
The final game of the Washington Capitals’ ginormous road trip was a Thursday night date with the pylon-clad Philadelphia Flyers. Just like last game, the Caps came out hard, but faced a much more composed foe.
Alex Ovechkin was in hurry, scoring in the game’s first minute. Claude Giroux converted a breakaway in the second. Overtime came and went. A coin was flipped, and the Caps lost. Flyers beat Caps 2-1 (shootout).
- As Claude Giroux broke away from a falling Dennis Wideman, Braden Holtby skated out of his crease for a poke check. It was aggressive move on the order of Ron Hextall, to whom Holtby so often gets compared. But Hextall is a legendary goalie and Holtby is still a minor-leaguer. The poke failed, and Claude had a yawning net to fill. Other than that, Holtby was a solid presence in net. 30 saves on 31 shots.
- Alex Ovechkin didn’t need half a minute to score. He’s on a three-game goal streak with 6 goals in his last 5 games. Down the stretch, there is no better asset for this team. He’s playing smart hockey too, not just bullying his way into the zone only to get pushed aside. He fired 6 shots.
- Marcus Johansson drew a crucial penalty shot in the second period. He seemed to have Ilya Bryzgalov deked, but the goalie got a stick out to end the play. It was a good poke check, but wasn’t it also a trip? Shouldn’t that have been a do-over? How does that work? Reader, please consult the NHL rulebook and provide us the booklearnin’ we so desperately need.
- Is Lenny Kravitz really Cinna? How does that happen?
- Bad luck happens. Despite tons of opportunities, the Caps got robbed over and over. Consider Mathieu Perreault ringing iron, Ovi getting robbed glove-side and then going wide on an open net a little later, and Aucoin buzzing up in front like a malarial insect. Can’t bury ’em all– but this game would’ve been a cakewalk if only the margins had shifted a bit.
- Compulsory Jaromir-Jagr-got-an-assist bullet. Hurl.
- Happy birthday, Tom Poti, who is technically still a Washington Capital. Remember that time he was awesome in the playoffs? Le sigh.
- The Caps were so meek and reserved during the back half of this game, you’d think they were auditioning for a walk-on role in My So-Called Life. That defensive posture may have made it tough for them to create offense in OT, which is why they spent the whole extra frame in their own zone, desperately waving away the Flyer attacks as if they were swarming tracker jackers.
- Matt Hendricks in the shootout. Like mom’s apple pie, except bad ass.
The Caps are still in 8th place in the East, a point above any kind of virtual tie with Buffalo. They are just three points behind Ottawa now. 7th place would be pretty cozy, wouldn’t it?
That’s the end of the road trip. They took 5 points out of 10, which is way better than we predicted a few weeks ago. A win in Philly would have been a huge confidence booster though…
The Caps are a desperate team, and desperation grants focus. Their desire, nay– their hunger for standings points drove the team to play a great first period. But the retreated in the third, playing for the tie in highly unsatisfying fashion.
If only they’d embraced that hunger for the full 60, they’d be the victors.
Catch you guys tomorrow night. The Caps return home to whip the Jets. Huge game.