Flyers Storm Back; Lose in Shootout
Tuesday night's game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Washington Capitals was a game watched closely by all hockey fans. It was a battle between two of the league's elite, the first and the second seed in the east. The outcome of the game could not bump the Flyers down to second, but with a playoff-like atmosphere surrounding the game, it was obvious why the Flyers wanted to win it.
Unfortunately for the Flyers, the story of the first period was a hot Neuvirth and a very cold Bobrovsky.
Just about halfway into the first period Nicklas Backstrom beat Sergei Bobrovsky five-hole. It was an absolutely terrible goal to give up. It was just flat out ugly. It started with a bad clear by Coburn in the neutral zone, but either way it was a goal that should not have gone in. You worry that goals like that will shake up a rookie like Bobrovsky and as time would tell, it was not his night.
Later in the first another bad goal was let in. This time Sean O'Donnell was at fault. O'Donnell shoved into Knuble which basically glided the puck into the net and through the pads of Bobrovsky. It was obviously not the way the Flyers wanted to start the game. It was frustrating because despite their defensive woes and the shakiness of Bobrovsky, the Flyers were not looking too bad. They had their own scoring chances, but couldn't solve Neuvirth.
Just over a minute into the second period, the trend continued and another goal that should have never happened, happened. Bobrovsky was not in the right position to stop the puck and Dennis Wideman scored to make it a 3-0 hockey game. It was dead at the Wells Fargo Center, and Peter Laviolette did what he had to do. Bobrovsky was taken out for Brian Boucher. If the Flyers had any shot at salvaging a victory, it was clear that it was not going to happen with Bobrovsky between the pipes.
As we saw from Detroit Red Wings and the Nashville Predators, a three goal deficit is not too devastating. It is possible to come back from. But obviously the Flyers would have to get started in the second period, and they did just that.
Kris Versteeg got off the snide with a bit of a crazy goal. He just threw the puck out in front of the net, and it deflected in off of a Capital. Just like that it was a 2 goal game and we all know 2 goal leads are very dangerous.
Andreas Nodl suddenly became a man on a mission in this game. After a beautiful pass to Coburn, Nodl got the puck right back and passed the puck to Claude Giroux with a perfect faked shot. And despite the angle, Claude Giroux's finish was absolutely beautiful. It's a goal that makes you want to rewind and watch it over and over again.
The second period would end with a score of 3-2. The comeback was not complete yet, but the Flyers were showing signs of the team that never quits. It's something that has been forgotten about this Flyers team, but it's definitely a quality that is still in them, and we saw that tonight.
Nold continued to play like an absolute beast. He was in the right place at the right time and capitalized on a Caps turnover (no pun intended). It was not by no means an easy goal simply because it was a point blank shot. Nodl has had trouble finishing on perfect opportunities. It could have been a lack of confidence or just a fact that he was snake-bitten. But none of that showed tonight. Nodl made no mistake with the puck this time.
The Flyers were buzzing and you could feel it in the crowd too. They were not satisfied with simply tying the game. They wanted to win the game in regulation.
Kimmo Timonen fired a laser of a shot that was directed in by Danny Briere. Briere celebrated with an extra exuberant fist pump. The crowd went wild and Flyers fans everywhere were elated. What an absolutely epic comeback. From down 3-0 to leading 4-3 and still in regulation.
Things can change so quickly in a hockey game. Just two minutes later, all the energy was taken out of the building. Despite all the heroics from guys like Nodl and Briere, another bad goal would come back to bite the Flyers in the butt. This time it was Brian Boucher who was beaten by Marcus Johansson.
In reality, a game like this deserved overtime. You couldn't stress enough how exciting it was. It was intense and physical. These two teams are great rivals and as we heard quite a few times, it would be incredible to see a Flyers Capitals mtachup in the playoffs.
Since this was just a regular season game, the prospect of a shootout was out there, and sadly it is what this game would come down to.
Ville Leino opened the scoring for the Flyers, but Matt Hendricks followed it up with a goal of his own. Claude Giroux pulled a beautiful move as expected but ended up falling without getting a shot off. Backstrom scored for the Capitals and it was up to Danny Briere to keep the Flyers alive. He did just that. But Brian Boucher failed a second time on a poke-check and was beaten by Alexander Semin which sealed the victory for the Capitals.
It really is unfortunate to see such an exciting game, possibly one of the games of the year, come down to a shootout. But despite not getting the second point, there was a lot to be excited about as a Flyers fan. Yes, both Bobrovsky and Boucher struggled. But the Flyers as a whole played one of their best games in a long time. They were not phased once by the three goal deficit.