Capitals fall to Flyers, 5-4 in shootout
There were plenty of opportunities for the Capitals, especially early on, to perhaps take greater control of this Saturday night special against the Philadelphia Flyers. But as two of the top three teams in the NHL's standings exchanged blows and substantial chances on special teams, Washington came out on the losing end of a 5-4 shootout.
Despite the disappointing final result, Washington's players were pleased with their overall effort that including a strong response from an ugly loss to Atlanta the night before and come back from a two-goal deficit against the Flyers to gain at least a point in the contest. The Capitals have suffered just one regulation loss in the past 10 games.
"Obviously we wanted the two points but I think we put forth a good effort," said Eric Fehr, who scored a goal to make it 4-4 with 39 seconds remaining in regulation. "We were strong defensively. It was a battle right until the end, which is what you expect from two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference."
--On three separate occasions in the first seven minutes or so, the Capitals watched their shots bounce off the goal post or the crossbar but perhaps none were a better opportunity than a two-on-one with Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin. Ovechkin's shot hit the crossbar near the corner, though, and he would later lose control of the puck on a breakaway in the second period.
Jason Chimera, who picked up a goal and an assist, saw a shot hit the post early but also managed to set up Marcus Johansson's tally for the lone goal in the first with a nifty pass with his back to the net.
"You're inches away from going post and out or post and in," Chimera said. "You just gotta keep shooting and eventually those ones go in. If you keep getting those chances, sometimes they'll go post and in instead of post and out."
--All told, there were 32 penalty minutes in this one; the Capitals were whistled for a season-high nine minors. Even though the Flyers entered the contest struggling with the man advantage (they were 1 for 15 in their past three games), there was the feeling that if given enough opportunities Philadelphia would eventually put the puck in the net.
It just wound up being a weird bounce off Claude Giroux's leg, but that goal helped swing the momentum in the Flyers' favor after the Capitals couldn't take a bigger lead.
"The refs had too much control over the game [Saturday]," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "They had [nine] power plays we had [seven] or something....It was a tough game. If there wasn't any penalties it probably would have been a 2-1 game, that's the way it started out to be."
--What helped the Capitals after this loss was the way they fought back, because it would have been easy to write them off -- or as Boudreau said, "fold in the tent" -- after Jeff Carter's wicked shot made it 3-1 in the third. But after failing to score on seven straight power plays, Washington's didn't seem willing to let another man-advantage pass without crashing in close around the net and taking every whack at the puck possible around Brian Boucher. It's that mind-set that led directly to Nicklas Backstrom's and Chimera's goals in the third.
"I think that's a good sign" to come back, Backstrom said. "Hopefully we can continue doing that. It's too bad we lost in the shootout. It was a lot of fun to play this game. A lot of emotion in between the teams and that's good. It's a lot of fun like a playoff game."
--It's hard to fault Michal Neuvirth on many of the Flyers' goals, especially the first two. The Capitals netminder finished with 31 saves in another solid outing.
--The team is off Sunday but will return to the ice Monday for a morning skate in New Jersey.
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