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The Washington Capitals arrived in Philadelphia on Saturday ahead of their Sunday matinee with the Flyers. As of 11:30 PM, things in the team’s hotel were going fine.

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Sleepy? Flyers beat Caps 3-2

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The Capitals’ gauntlet of intra-division games continued on Sunday afternoon with a matinee meet-up with the Philadelphia Flyers. A combination of factors led to the extinguishing of Washington’s win streak, but at least Jason Chimera earned some good will.

Starting on the top line, Jay Beagle quickly squandered the opportunity with an offensive-zone penalty that Claude Girioux converted for a goal.  Wayne Simmonds made it 2-0 Flyers in the second period by knocking in a rebound.

Two-goal hole. Big trouble, but then the secondary scoring showed up. Tom Wilson nabbed a turnover forced by Michael Latta to get the Caps on the board, then Joel Ward knuckled a loose puck to tie it up before the second intermission.

The Flyers were buzzing late in the third and finally broke though when Michael Del Zotto ripped one through traffic and past Holtby to put the Flyers up late. The Caps had a late-game power play, but couldn’t come back. Bummer.

Flyers beat Caps 3-2.

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Jason Chimera KO’s Zac Rinaldo (GIF)

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The Caps and Flyers have been super chippy with each other ever since Matt Niskanen‘s clean hit of Scott Laughton last month. Today, village idiot Zac Rinaldo tried to run Mike Green.

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This is literally every picture of the Caps and Flyers

This is literally every picture ever of the Caps and Flyers.

As if back-to-back matinees weren’t enough, today’s game against the Flyers comes hot on the heels of one of the best games we’ve seen in quite a while. In fact, we just canNOT wait for today’s match-up, so let’s get right to it.

It might feel easy to write off the Flyers this season, but not so fast. They can still surprise, both for being amazing and, alternately amazingly bad, so you just never know which team is going to show up.

For a little insight into this Jekyll/Hyde team, we were lucky enough to chat with Collin Mehalick, editor over at the excellent Flyers blog Broad Street Hockey and all-around smarty-pants about all things Philly, about today’s game, and just what sort of squad we’ll be facing at the Wells Fargo Center.

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Caps at Flyers Pregame: Hockey Day in America

NHL 2015 - Feb 19 - BUF vs PHI - Right Wing Jakub Voracek (#93) of the Philadelphia Flyers scores against Goalie Michal Neuvirth (#34) of the Buffalo Sabres

Oh. Wow. You can score on Neuvirth and the Sabres. You must be very proud.

Let’s make this quick because I gotta shovel my sidewalk.

The Caps won yesterday for the fourth time in a row, their best run of the season. No time to celebrate though, because evil Bettman scheduled them for back-to-back nooners. I’d say “don’t worry, it’s just the Flyers” except just because they’re a bad team doesn’t mean they can’t play dirty stuff and get a little lucky too.

Tune in at 12:30 on NBC proper.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 33-17-10 51.8% 100.3 24.3% 81.4%
Philadelphia Flyers 25-23-11 49.6% 100.1 23.0% 75.9%

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eric-fehr-stick-save

Braden Holtby was fantastic for the Washington Capitals on Saturday, making 32 stops in the team’s 3-2 shootout victory over the New York Islanders. Unfortunately, we can’t award him with the save of the game. That honor goes to Eric Fehr‘s stick.

No, not Eric Fehr, silly. Eric Fehr’s magical hockey stick.

In the third period, as John Tavares tried to bang home the game-tying goal with 1:04 left, he clanged the puck hard off the post. The puck ricocheted high into the air where a falling Fehr lost control of his hockey stick. Instead of falling to the ice like a normal hockey stick would, Fehr’s twig decided hey, lemme just make this save for Holtby while I’m up here.

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matt-martin-jersey-ripped

What a day for Tom Wilson. In the first period, he executed a perfect double check with Jason Chimera. In the third during a fight with Matt Martin, the manchild nearly ripped the dude’s jersey in half.

That is an impressive feat of strength.

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Caps Edge Isles 3-2 in the Shootout!

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Photo: Rob Carr

¡Uno!

After a jittery start with very few chances for either team, Travis Hamonic caught John Carlson overcommitting high in the defensive zone and got it past Holtby, top corner. A few minutes later, he got a note of thanks from Wilson and Chimera, sandwiching the goal scorer behind his own net. Heh. For the remainder of the first, the Islanders looked much the part of Metro division leaders, staying aggressive on the backcheck and making it hard for the Capitals to hang around in front of backup goaltender Chad Johnson.  

As the period was winding down, The Isles were called for too many men on the ice, giving the Caps some time on the power play until Evgeny Kuznetsov’s stick caught Hickey in the beak. You could see him trying to bleed, but his face would not comply. The PK unit looked well organized against a clearly dangerous team. With under a minute left in the frame, perennial non-All Star Nick Backstrom’s perfectly placed pass to Matt Niskanen put the Good Guys on the board. I like that Backstrom kid. Mark my words, he’s going places in this league. 

¡Dos!

The Capitals’ top line sucked up zone time aggressively during the second, with numerous beautiful passing sequences that really should have resulted in biscuit-basketness. Johnson stood tall for the Islanders. Not much else to say. It was a thing that happened, and there was some hockey.

¡Tres!

The third period got off to a slightly scary start, as John Tavares was put into the boards by Tom Wilson and was slow to get up. Don’t feel too bad, Caps fans: he nearly authored an assist a few moments later, with a gymnastic Holtby denying the close-range shot. About five minutes in, Matt Martin took Wilson to task, ostensibly for the hit on the Isles’ captain, in a battle of the heavyweight prime numbers. No pretty faces were harmed in the scrum.

Both goalies were peppered by shot attempts in the waning minutes of the period, and each played solid, unglamorous, technically proficient games.  That said, few goalies can be asked to withstand a 3 on 2 with Eric Fehr at the tip of the spear. Streaking down the ice, F-16 made it 2-1 with a helper from Brooks Laich. The Islanders’ intensity immediately spiked, and after a near goal was saved by a sprawling Holtby, they came knocking again. Tavares to Lee to Strome, tying the game once more. The clock ticked down.

¡Overtime!

4 on 4 play was feverish, but because it was that kind of a game, it was on to…

¡Shootout!

It went like this:

Kuzya: SCOAR

Nielsen: NO SCOAR FOR YOU

Backy: NO

Tavares: NO SCOAR FOR YOU EITHER

Ovi: DANGIT

Strome: NO SCOAR FOR YOU IS PARTY TIME!

This game had the smack of playoff hockey, and the Washington Capitals looked like they belonged right alongside the Islanders. Don’t know about you, but I want Philly. Bad.

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niscannon

Photoshop via @puckwx

Nicklas Backstrom has been insanely good this year. Today has been no different. For the Caps’ first goal, he took the puck in the Caps defensive zone, skated around four different Islander players in the offensive zone, and put a perfect pass into Matt Niskanen‘s wheel house. Niskanen unleashed the Niscannon, going top shelf.

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wilson-big-hit1

Even though he’s only two seasons into his NHL career, Tom Wilson has had a bunch of impressive highlight reel hits. Saturday against the Islanders, he authored another one. This time with his pal Jason Chimera.

As Travis Hamonic gathered in a puck behind the Isles net, Wilson and Chimera caught him with, what Craig Laughlin referred to as, a “double whammy.”

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