Bad Beats – Tonight’s game pitted the two top teams in the Eastern Conference standings, and two teams coming off ugly losses in their previous outings.
Both teams were determined to make amends, and both teams did. In the old days, this would have been a hard-fought, entertaining 4-4 tie hockey game. As you may have heard though, they conduct skills competitions after these hockey games now, and the Flyers won that portion of the evening’s proceedings.
Ties are unacceptable in the modern NHL, but dicey officiating …
Philadelphia’s Danny Briere termed some of the 16 minor penalties – seven of them whistled in the third period and overtime – “iffy calls.”
“I think the refs had too much control over the game today,” says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. “They had what, eight power plays, we had six or seven or something. They had nine? When you’re 18 minutes shorthanded, and a lot of them on rinky-dink little calls, but once you start doing that you have to continue doing that.
“It was a tough game. If there wasn’t very many penalties, it probably would have been a 2-1 game. Because that’s the way it started out to be.”
It was a 1-0 game into the middle of the second. It was a 2-1 game into the middle of the third. That’s when someone torched the hay in the barn.
Philly took a two-goal lead – the only one enjoyed by either team tonight – on Jeff Carter’s sublime individual effort at 9:40 of the third.
Starting with that strike, both teams combined for a total of five goals in a span of 9:41, culminating with Eric Fehr’s clutch tally at 19:21 of the third.
Philly will head home with a pair of points, while the Caps must be happy with one. Given that Washington was down two goals in the third to the second-best team in the Eastern Conference, color the Caps content with the single.
“Both teams were coming off games that they probably didn’t feel very good about themselves,” says Boudreau, referring to Washington’s 5-0 loss in Atlanta on Friday and the Flyers’ 8-7 home ice setback on Thursday at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning. “I think two very proud teams wanted to get back and show that they could play.”
This one goes in the books as a 5-4 shootout win for the Flyers. Tonight’s tilt became a shootout a bit before the end of overtime, though.
Marcus On The Move – For the third straight game, rookie Caps center Marcus Johansson started the contest with a pair of different linemates.
From the get go, Johansson was on top of his game. He scored the game’s first goal at 8:10 of the first, and until Nicklas Backstrom hammered one home on a power play midway through the third, it was the lone Washington goal in a span of
“It feels better and better,” says the 20-year-old Swede. “Today I felt better than the start and it’s just unlucky we didn’t get two points, but I think we struggled hard and we fought for it. I think we played a solid game.”
“Really good,” answers Boudreau when asked about Johansson’s game. “I thought that was Marcus’s best game.”
Stepping Up – With Caps winger Mike Knuble on the sidelines after taking a Fehr shot to the face last night in Atlanta, Fehr, Chimera and Tomas Fleischmann were given the chance to step into the void left by Knuble’s absence.
“I sort of challenged a couple of them that this is their time,” says Boudreau. “We talk about with our team, some guys don’t get as much ice time as maybe if they were on another team. But now that Mike’s out, there’s 18 or 19 minutes a game somebody is able to take.
“I thought Eric and Fleisch and Chimmer all stepped up to the plate and played a really good game tonight.”
All three players found their way onto the scoresheet in Saturday’s game.
“I see it as an opportunity for everybody,” says Fehr. “He’s a veteran leader in the locker room. [His absence] opens up spots for guys to be leaders in the dressing room and on the ice.
“Hopefully, I’ll be able to fill a little bit of that void.”
Power Sources – Chimera’s power play goal in the third period was his first extra-man tally as a member of the Capitals, the seventh of his career and his first since Dec. 19 when he was with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Matt Hendricks picked up the primary assist on Chimera’s goal. For Hendricks, it was the first power play point of his NHL career and it came in the 80th game of his career.
Fleischmann notched the secondary helper on the Chimera goal. For Fleischmann, it was his first power play point of the 2010-11 season. In 2009-10, Fleischmann totaled seven goals and 13 assists for 20 power play points.
Shooting Gallery – Philadelphia finished with 37 shots on goal and the Capitals 35 in tonight’s game. It’s the first time in 13 games and four weeks that the Caps have played in a game in which both teams managed 30 or more shots on goal.
Washington played in four such games in the first eight games of the season.
Saturday Night Special – Tonight’s game put the first blemish on Neuvirth’s Saturday night ledger this season. He came into tonight’s game with a 4-0 mark this season in Saturday night games, and he had a 2.22 GAA and a .932 save pct. in Saturday contests.
Prior to tonight, Neuvirth sported a 9-2 career record and a 2.18 GAA and a .931 save pct. on Saturday nights.
Taxed – The Flyers’ penalty killing corps has been getting quite the workout of late. Saturday’s game marked the third straight contest in which the Philly penalty killers were tasked with seven or more shorthanded situations in the same game.
It also marked the third straight game in which the Flyers’ beleaguered penalty killing corps was nicked for multiple power play goals.
Down On The Farm – A night after a 4-2 setback at the hands of the Binghamton Senators in New York, the AHL Hershey Bears returned home for a Saturday night date with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Semyon Varlamov started in goal for the Bears. Hershey scored three power play goals but came up on the short end of a 4-3 score.
Varlamov was dented for four goals on 23 shots in his second start for the Bears this season.
Andrew Gordon scored twice, Lawrence Nycholat had a goal and an assist, and Kyle Greentree contributed a trio of helpers to the Hershey cause.
Hershey hosts Hartford at Giant Center on Sunday.
Down a level, the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays hosted the Gwinnett Gladiators for a second straight night at North Charleston Coliseum on Saturday.
The Stingrays won for the second time in as many nights, 3-2. Piere-Luc O’Brien scored twice and Jake Hauswirth scored once to support the 22-save efforts of Todd Ford in the South Carolina nets. Ford won his second game of the weekend.
South Carolina hosts Wheeling at North Charleston Coliseum on Sunday.
By The Numbers – Besides the 37 shots they put on goal, the Caps had 21 shots blocked an 18 that missed the net … David Steckel was the Caps’ top draw man with 7-of-9 for 78% … John Carlson led the Caps with four blocked shots … Tyler Sloan led the Caps with five hits, delivering them in just 9:09 of ice time … Washington’s Mike Green led all skaters on both sides with 31:21 of work tonight.
1 - 0 WSH
1 - 1 Tie