Flyers End Losing Streak, Top Caps in Shootout
The last time the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals met, the Flyers lack of discipline cost them an extra point in a 3-2 overtime loss. Saturday night, lack of discipline almost cost them another point. Luckily, they were able to weather the storm and defeat the Capitals 1-0 in a shootout.
Coming into Saturday’s game, the Flyers had dropped their last two games to Montreal and Tampa Bay and walking into the Verizon Center was arguably the last place they’d want to be. The fact that the Capitals had just been walloped by Atlanta certainly didn’t make things any easier for the boys in orange and black. To add to the worries of the Flyers, the rookie sensation Sergei Bobrovsky was given a night off in favor of Brian Boucher. Boucher hadn’t started in fourteen games, and showed some prototypical rust early on. However, he was as good as he needed to be for the team to leave Washington with two critical points. In doing so, the team snapped the Capitals seven game home winning streak.
After the first period, things weren’t very encouraging for the Flyers. Not only did they trail 1-0, but the Capitals had also hit a few posts as Boucher attempted to shake off his rust. They didn’t hit posts because that was all Boucher gave them, either. They had clean, unadulterated nets staring at them and fired high and/or wide. But those are the breaks that come with hockey, and surviving the first period down by one was probably more of a victory than it seemed at the time.
In the beginning of the second period, Boucher had an absolutely fantastic penalty kill, and the Flyers skates really came alive as a direct result. As a result, the team drew four penalties in the second and really controlled play. Claude Giroux deflected a Chris Pronger point shot from his midsection for the game-tying tally. The goal broke a 1/19 stretch for the Flyers on the power play. Although the team ended up 1/9 on the power play in the game, it was great to know that the team is capable of scoring on the man advantage again. With 2:13 remaining in the second period, Mike Richards scored off a pretty cross-crease pass from Scott Hartnell. The first period was clearly dominated by the Capitals, but the Flyers bounced back with an incredible second period. Boucher’s performance on the early Capitals power play of the period was a tremendous momentum shift.
The final period was more like most probably expected from the two teams, with five total tallies being put on the board. Jeff Carter scored on a sharp wrist shot and then things got interesting. Immediately following the Carter goal, Kimmo Timonen was called for holding and not long after, Nicklas Backstrom scored on a rebound. Unbeknownst to many, the goal actually occurred on a delayed penalty call to Richards for slashing. Much to the bewilderment of Peter Laviolette, the Capitals went right back on the power play. They would find the same result as Chimera knocked in a loose rebound and tied the game at three with eight and a half minutes to play. Andreas Nodl would go on to score a pretty spino-o-rama backhand shot on Neuvirth as the Flyers retook the lead at 4-3. As the Flyers earned a power play with just about three minutes remaining in the game, it looked like things were all sewed up for the Flyers. However, the ugly stick penalty monster that has haunted the team reared its’ ugly head with less than two minutes left in the game. Yet again, Danny Briere was the culprit and Eric Fehr made the Flyers pay with a short-side goal on Boucher. From there, the game went into overtime and eventually the shootout, where Briere redeemed himself as being the only player to score.
Any Flyers fan/player/coach will tell you that the high-sticking penalties this year have been terribly frustrating. It seems like they occur at the worst possible times for the team, and Saturday night was no different. However, as frustrating the penalty was and the Capitals goal that followed, it was equally encouraging that the team found a way to win in a hostile, artificial noise-filled barn. With the caliber of team that Washington has coupled with their embarrassing loss the night before to the Thrashers, it was a character-building win for the Flyers. In other cases, their lack of discipline would have lead to their undoing.
Saturday, they didn’t let that happen.