Gone in 85 Seconds – Washington scored the game’s first two goals and led into the middle of the third period on Tuesday against the Flyers, but four bad minutes in the middle of the final frame cost the Caps. Philly skated off with a 4-3 win.
Philadelphia’s Scott Hartnell tied the game, taking a strong feed from Joffrey Lupul and one-timing a wrister top shelf to even things at 2-2 at the 9:11 mark of the third. Two shots on goal and 85 seconds later, Philadelphia had the lead on Jeff Carter’s 35th goal of the season. Arron Asham gave Philly an insurance tally two shots and 114 seconds after Carter’s game-winner.
“They’re a good hockey team,” said Caps center Brooks Laich. “They play physical, they play hard, they win the puck battles. I think in the third period we have to give them credit – they out-competed us in the third period and won the puck battles. They went to our net and they paid the price in front and they capitalized on their chances. We knew they were going to do that, we knew they were going to play physical and be tough to play against and tonight they just beat us.”
The four unanswered goals and three third period strikes were enough to do the Caps in on this night. Philly has netted eight third period goals against Washington this season, the most of any team the Caps have faced.
The Caps are now 1-2 against the Flyers this season. Philadelphia is the only Eastern Conference team against which Washington holds a losing record this season.
Late Leads – Washington dropped to 26-3-1 on the season when leading games after the second period.
Last season, the Capitals were 27-1-2 when leading after two. In 2006-07, the Caps were 21-1-5 when leading after 40 minutes. And in 2005-06, Washington was 18-1-3 in those relatively rare situations in which it held a lead going into the final period of a game.
That means the Caps have lost as many games in regulation this season in which they’ve led after two periods as they had in the prior three seasons combined (66-3-10).
Missed Opportunities – The Caps had several strong chances to take a bigger lead early and change the complexion of this game, but they failed to cash in on a number of glorious scoring chances, especially while Philadelphia was shorthanded in the first period.
Nicklas Backstrom hit the post on a shorthanded breakaway, and then David Steckel pushed his breakaway bid wide on the same shorthanded situation. Steckel collected the puck in the corner and tried to feed a wide-open Alexander Semin in front, but the pass was errant. Mike Green had great shorthanded chance, but chipped it over the net. Green had another later in the third, after the Caps had fallen behind by a pair.
Washington also missed several strong chances at even-strength and on the power play. Not expanding their lead early enabled the Flyers to hang around and keep it close, and Philly netminder Antero Niittymaki got stronger and more confident with each passing minute.
The Capitals combined for 22 missed shots and had another dozen shots blocked out in front by Flyer defenders.
With the score 2-1 in the third period, the Caps even got a pair of rare third period power plays at the start of the frame, the first time they had as many as two power play chances in the third since Jan. 27 at Boston, ending a span of 11 games in which they had one or fewer power plays in the final period.
“The theme of the whole night is not cashing in on chances,” said Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. “You get five or six breakaways and you don’t hit the net on any of them, Brooks Laich might have hit the net on his, but everyone else missed the net. If you don’t get a score when you have the opportunity, eventually those opportunities dry up and the other team gets opportunities. That was pretty evident, I thought.
“They don’t hit the net in this game, goalies get confidence and when that happens and the other team picks it up because there are ebbs and flows in each game.”
Got ’Em All Now –Alex Ovechkin’s second period goal was his first this season against Philadelphia. He has now scored against all 14 of Washington’s Eastern Conference opponents this season. It’s the first time he has achieved that feat since he did so in his rookie NHL season of 2005-06.
Ovechkin also assisted on Backstrom’s goal. Tonight marks the first time in 23 games when Ovechkin has recorded multiple points that the Capitals have lost (21-1-1).
Sellout Streak – Tuesday’s tilt with the Flyers was another sellout, Washington’s ninth in succession, a new club record.
Two-Man Trouble (Again) – The Caps had a two-man advantage of 47 seconds in duration during the first period of tonight’s game, but were unable to capitalize on that chance.
Philadelphia had a pair of brief two-man advantages, one in the second and another in the third period. The first of that pair of two-man advantages was slated to last 15 seconds, but Philly only needed nine seconds for Claude Giroux to light the lamp and halve what was a 2-1 Washington lead at that point. The Flyers also enjoyed a short 18-second stretch with a two-man advantage in the third.
Washington is now 2-for-17 with the two-man advantage this season, and has not scored in such a situation since Nicklas Backstrom tallied against Anaheim on Nov. 20. The Caps have held the two-man advantage for a total of 11:09 this season.
Capitals opponents have scored 10 goals in 30 chances totaling 24:47 with the two-man advantage.
Slash and Burn – There was a combined total of 17 minor penalties whistled in tonight’s game, five of them for slashing. Four of the slashing calls went against Washington.
Offensive Outburst – Coming into tonight’s game, the Flyers had held the Capitals to a total of just two goals in the two previous meetings between the two clubs. But Washington has had a hot offensive hand of late, scoring four or more goals in eight of its previous 11 coming into Tuesday’s contest.
Washington scored twice, doubling its previous output against the Flyers.
With four goals tonight, the Flyers now have scored 24 goals in their last five games.
Nick at Nite – Backstrom scored the game’s first goal at 1:48 of the first period on a Capitals power play. The goal extended Backstrom’s scoring streak to seven straight games. He has three goals and 10 points during the life of the streak.
Earlier this season, Backstrom picked up at least a point in nine consecutive games, the longest run of his brief NHL career.
700 Club – Congratulations to Caps defenseman Tom Poti, who skated in the 700th game of his NHL career on Tuesday against the Flyers.
Poti has played more than twice as many games in the league as any other Washington blueliner. Shaone Morrisonn (329) is second behind Poti on that list.
Just Enough Power – The Flyers had eight power play chances on Tuesday, and cashed in on just one of them, a brief two-man advantage in the middle of the second period.
Even with Tuesday night’s power play goal, the Flyers are 6-for-56 (10.7%) on the power play over their last 13 games. Despite its current power play slump, Philadelphia still features the league’s fourth-ranked power play with a 22.9% success rate on the season.
Road Warriors – Philadelphia has now won four straight and six of its last eight away from Wachovia Center. They’ve allowed nine goals in their last four road games and 19 in their last eight.
The Flyers are 15-9-6 on the road for the season. Along with Boston (21-8-4) and New Jersey (19-9-2), the Flyers are one of only three Eastern Conference teams that are five games or better above what passes for .500 on the road.
Shorty Streak Stopped – Philadelphia’s Mike Richards leads the league with seven shorthanded goals. He entered tonight’s game with a shorthanded strike in three straight games, the first NHL player to achieve the feat since Colorado’s Joe Sakic in 1998. Richards is the only player in the league who has scored a shorthanded goal while his team was two men down this season.
The Flyers lead the NHL with 16 shorthanded goals. Richards, Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne have accounted for 15 of Philly’s 16 shorties this season. Carter and Gagne each have four shorthanded goals.
The Flyers have not allowed a shorthanded goal all season, the only team in the league to achieve that distinction, although the Caps certainly flirted with shorthanded success all night on Tuesday. Philadelphia has never gone through an entire season without surrendering a shorthanded goal.
Happy Birthday – To Caps defenseman Jeff Schultz, who turns 23 on Wednesday.
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2 - 2 Tie
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