Holtby and shoddy penalty killing led to a 4-1 Capitals win in Washington Saturday night, putting the Flyers in a 2-0 hole in their best-of-7 series.
The Flyers entered tonight's game looking for an improved effort from Game 1's 2-0 loss, which saw a solid effort by Mason wasted as the Flyers attack was shut down by the Caps, who limited the Flyers to just 19 shots. With Scott Laughton replacing an injured Sean Couturier, the Flyers had a tall order get even taller without their shutdown center. Washington countered with the same lineup as last game.
For the first 14 minutes of the game, the Flyers used outstanding defensive zone passes to limit Washington to just one shot on goal, while mustering six of their own. While none of those shots were particularly dangerous and most were from sharp angles, it was encouraging to see the Flyers keep Washington at bay for large chunks of time. The powerplays for both teams got to work following that, and unfortunately a puck off John Carlson's stick found its way past a screened Mason and into the net.
The Flyers had powerplay time of their own, including 67 seconds of 5-on-3 time, but despite some very good chances, Holtby was able to answer them all somehow, probably because he's an alien or something. I don't know. The Flyers did manage to equal the shot output from the first game in just the first period of this one, but because of Holtby had nothing to show for it.
I'd say stuff about the second Caps goal, but I like my computer and will just say Jason Chimera scored a highly unlikely goal early in the second. Go look up highlights for it if you're masochistic. Instead, I'll focus on the first playoff goal of the season for the Flyers by Jake Voracek. A seemingly harmless play on a 4-on-4 resulted in Voracek driving on Brooks Orpik who opted to play the puck instead of Jake. The result was Schenn getting to the puck over to Voracek who finally got one by Holtby, beating him under his right pad to make it 2-1. Blah, blah, Ovi, powerplay, 3-1 late in the second. I've seen in a million times and I don't like it. The rest of the second wasn't all that interesting, and despite playing a pretty good game to that point, outshooting the Caps 30-18, they trailed 3-1 heading into the last period.
The third period was more or less the same as the rest of the game, with the Flyers controlling play but not getting any results. The final blow was a Backstrom goal with just over two minutes remaining making the final score 4-1.
Despite this loss, not all is lost. The Flyers have two games at home coming up, and the Caps have a history of blowing playoff leads. Efforts like this, while ultimately futile tonight, will lead to good results. However, the margin for error is razor thin now, and Mason has to play better and Holtby has to be figured out for the team to have any chance. Regardless of what happens, remember that in the big scheme of things, the team is ahead of schedule and making the playoffs beats not making them.
- How are the lines set up without Couturier, and do they work out OK for the Flyers? They seemed to work well enough. Anytime you can outshoot your opponent nearly 2-to-1, something's going right.
- Can the defense do a bit better a job moving the puck up-ice today than it did on Thursday? Absolutely. The Flyers were the better team 5-on-5 this night mainly due to this.
- Steve Mason was good on Thursday. Seems like that's going to need to continue indefinitely. Does it tonight? Despite some very good saves, he's had better nights.
- Do special teams go a bit better for the Flyers than they did in Game 1? The power play was alright and only Holtby prevented it from scoring multiple goals. The PK was a right straight disaster.
- How do the Flyers respond to Washington's hitting and physicality this time around? Can't really say, both teams played physical as is their wont. There wasn't anything too explosive though.