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Capitals 3, Flyers 1: Things are bleak

Everybody’s working for the weekend, unless you’re the Flyers and the weekend is this particular weekend.

Washington Capitals v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Coming off of three straight games against their biggest rival including one just yesterday afternoon, the Flyers were always in for an uphill battle today. Turns out, that hill was just a bit too steep, and sometimes when that happens you just roll back down it and are back where you started.

A strong first period by the Flyers went to waste after that as the visiting Capitals dominated the final 40 minutes of play, taking the lead with 15 seconds left in the second period and rolling to a 3-1 win. Joel Farabee continued to be awesome, scoring the Flyers’ only goal in the first period, but things slowly but consistently unraveled from there. Carter Hart took the loss.

Relive this one with us — if you’re a real sicko and into that kind of thing — below.

Pregame Musings

  • There are fans there! I still am somewhat uneasy with this and am not sure it should be happening. Would have liked them to wait just a bit longer. Nonetheless, they’re there, and I hope they are safe, have fun, are safe, and get to watch a win. Will be interesting to see if that makes a difference in how things go.
  • And hey, lineup changes! Up front, Michael Raffl, who it sounded like was dealing with something after yesterday’s game, will sit this one out. Per Alain Vigneault, Raffl is dealing with some stuff and the team thought it was in their best interest to get him a break. No arguments here. Get well soon, Raff. Connor Bunnaman will be in the lineup in his place.
  • More changes on defense, too. Phil Myers missed most of Thursday’s game and all of Saturday’s, but he’s back and ready to go. Erik Gustafsson will also play for the first time in about a week (he’s been a scratch four games in a row). On their way out are Nate Prosser, who played yesterday, and Robert Hagg, who Vigneault said is playing well and is out for something of a rotational scratch given the schedule.
  • Ah, right, that schedule. The Flyers tonight are playing their sixth game in nine days, as we’ve been told a hundred times already. That stretch is the beginning of a 7-in-11 stretch, and a 8-in-13 stretch, and a 9-in-15 stretch, and a 10-in-17, and 11-in-19, and 12-in-20 ... this schedule is hell. Now, every team’s schedule is hell, to be clear, but tonight’s going to be tough given that a) the Flyers clearly looked gassed in the third period yesterday against Pittsburgh, and b) the Capitals were off yesterday. Gonna have to dig in deep to get this one.
  • Or maybe Carter Hart can just go off. I’d like that.

The First Period

  • Hahaha I forgot that Tom Wilson was suspended for this game. What a loser. Anywho, we’re underway.
  • Washington has iced the puck twice in the first 30 seconds. Maybe they’re just trying to score from their end of the ice? Did work against Steve Mason that one time. Oh god I didn’t mean to bring that up. Bad omen. Forget I said that. Can you remove words written on the internet? I sure hope so.
  • Nolan Patrick, who was rough on Saturday, off to an active start here. Blocked a Washington chance and then just got one of his own off a great behind-the-net pass there. Flyers getting slightly better of the run of it early.
  • Zdeno Chara, Washington Capital, is still weird to me.
  • Hey, that’s Erik Gustafsson. Nearly fumbles a puck in his own end to get in trouble, recovers, and hits Oskar Lindblom perfectly in stride to spring him for a chance. Take the good, take the bad.
  • First TV timeout at 10:38. Not much to report.
  • Think this from our pal Greg over at Japers’ Rink sums up the opening to this game fairly well:
  • First real close call comes there off the Flyers’ sticks as there’s a scramble in front but no one is there to push it past Ilya Samsonov.
  • I’m here watching this game on the Capitals’ broadcast and there’s an extended discussion that basically amounts to “the Tom Wilson suspension is unfair and this is Brandon Carlo’s fault for looking down at the puck and man I just don’t know. To some degree, I get the argument. But also, a) there are ways to deliver that check without making head contact into the boards, and b) I understand that the local homer broadcast is not going to admit this out loud, but that particular dude does not get the benefit of the doubt.
  • You’re not gonna believe this, but Joel Farabee scored a goal. Had a 2-on-1 and didn’t pass. I love him. 1-0 Flyers.
  • Flyers get another near-odd-man break there but Washington gets in the way of that pass. Flyers looking good in the time following this goal — JJ pointed out on yesterday’s broadcast that the Flyers have given up 10 goals in the two minutes following a goal of their own, which is the second-most of any team in the league. Looks like they’re going to avoid that this time around.
  • They will (hopefully!), as Patrick draws a penalty right at the side of the net to give the Flyers the game’s first power play.
  • They did it! The fans yelled “shoooooooooot!” They’re back! Everything is normal! This power play stinks. Stunk, because now it’s over.
  • There’s a scramble in front of Ilya Samsonov, and the Flyers are going on the penalty kill for ... I’m not sure. Let’s see this replay ... oh, my. Konecny is pushed into Samsonov by a Washington defender, there’s are some pleasantries exchanged, and Konecny gets the only penalty for goalie interference? That is brutal. Absolutley brutal. If the fans weren’t warmed up already, they’re gonna get there now. Anywho, we now get to see if the Flyers’ beleaguered penalty kill can rebound today against ... Alex Ovechkin. Cool. Cool cool cool cool cool cool.
  • Caps swing it around to Ovechkin in The Ovi Spot to get a shot off, but Hart is there to turn it aside. Pretty solid penalty kill for the Flyers, though Bunnaman clears it right as it expires and unfortunately can’t spot Konecny out coming out of the box on the other side.
  • Caps broadcast is talking about how Carl Hagelin scored his first career NHL goal against the Flyers against Sergei Bobrovsky almost a decade ago. For some reason, everything about that statement made me feel very old.
  • Apparently Garnet Hathaway tried to start something behind the play with Konecny, who correctly decided that it was not worth his time. First period has come to an end, with the Flyers leading 1-0. Shots are 14-7 Flyers, attempts 19-14. Pretty solid performance, tough to ask for a whole lot more.

It Is Now The Second Period

  • The middle frame begins with a boomer of a shot from Ovechkin at the top of the circle, but it misses the net. Hayes handles the puck into the Caps’ zone shortly after and dangles in alone on Samsonov, but the puck gets out in front of him and Samsonov covers.
  • Pretty good shift there by the Caps’ fourth line off an entry by Hagelin, but the Flyers manage to clear it out without incident.
  • Not many real dangerous chances (yet), but the puck’s been in the Flyers’ end for most of this period so far. Caps definitely getting their legs under them.
  • Flyers weather another good shift by Washington, and Voracek carries into the zone and gets tripped by Chara. Big chance for the Flyers here as Washington is without one of its key PKers and welp I couldn’t even finish typing this point before JVR is called for a trip right off of the faceoff and now we’ll go 4-on-4 for a while.
  • Good back-and-forth action there with both teams getting a bit of zone time, and now John Carlson clears it over the glass unimpeded and the Flyers will get 31 seconds of 4-on-3 without Chara or Carlson on the ice. Sure would be a good time to score a goal.
  • Ghost can’t keep it in following the initial and the 4-on-3 is now over and then things get weird. Chara comes out of the box straight into a 2-on-1, where Hart makes the save and coughs up a juicy rebound that fortunately does not go to a Capital. JVR then exits the box, and the Flyers immediately get breakaway (nearly a 2-on-0?) that Konecny fires wide. Most exciting action of the power play, as the Flyers fail to do much of anything after that.
  • Welp, the only way the Flyers are generating offense this period is on the counter-attack from Capitals chances, which led to a bit of a sequence there. Shot by Richard Panik went wide and all the way around the boards, turning into a Flyers 3-on-1 that inexplicably slows down to the point where it’s mostly snuffed out and just ends in a shot wide by Koneecny. That could have been cool.
  • And now it’s tied. Way that period was going, felt like a matter of time. Oshie walks along the boards and hits Ovechkin with a great pass, and Ovechkin beats Hart from the slot, just outside of the right circle. 1-1 with 4:49 in the period.
  • Flyers turn the pressure on in the couple shift following that goal, but nothing makes it past Samsonov.
  • A bit of a defensive breakdown gives Backstrom a chance in close, but Hart makes a big save. Not many humongous saves by him tonight, but he’s largely been solid and that was a big one.
  • That’s a killer. Caps win the faceoff and send it around, and Orlov gets a shot off from about the same spot Ovechkin just scored from and beats Hart five-hole with 15.8 seconds left. Cannot let that goal in that close to the end of a period. Can’t do it.
  • 2-1 after 40. For the most part, that period looked like the opposite of what that first period was. Washington just managed to cash in one more time. If the Flyers want to get through this weekend with any points, they’re going to have to rally against a team that just got the better of them for a period despite being at a rest disadvantage. Sure.

The Third Period, I Guess

  • First threatening look for either team nearly comes about three minutes in, but ... Justin Braun? Really? catches up with Panik and knocks the puck away before he can get a shot off on a rush. That is a rare sight this year, but I will take it.
  • And another one. Caps carry it in, three guys standing right in front of Hart ... sort of just let Nick Jensen skate in, and he wires a nice shot into the left corner to beat Hart. 3-1. That all started seconds after Chara took Farabee to the ground in the neutral zone and JVR tussled with him a bit while the goal unfolded. Credit to him for sticking up for his guy, but eh ... maybe do defense instead?
  • All Capitals since that goal, still. Flyers had a couple dangerous chances in the second but this game has largely been in the Flyers’ end since that first intermission.
  • Hey, wow, the Flyers have an extended shift in the offensive zone and Nic Dowd trips Hayes. Flyers will get a power play that they can ill-afford to squander.
  • Most eventful moment of the first minute of this power play is when Hart nearly couldn’t beat a Caps PKer to the puck behind his own net. That is, in fairness, followed up by a nice pass to hit Couturier in close, but Samsonov denies him.
  • PP for all intents and purposes ends with a 2-on-1 ... for the Capitals. Just straight-up not good enough.
  • Caps successfully suck the life out of the game for the next three minutes, then Voracek gets a wraparound chance that Samsonov is there to shut down.
  • So what do we make of this? It seems silly to call this particular week a measuring stick week, because they have probably a half-dozen more weeks just like this one on the calendar the rest of the way. But this was a buzzkill of a week after how the last one went, and at the end of the night they’ll technically be out of a playoff spot. Which, to be clear, does not matter at all — they’re in the top half by points percentage, and everyone is so close and still has so many games against one another that the standings right now are basically irrelevant. But it was a big of a knock-em-down-a-peg week, to be sure.
  • Vigneault pulls the goalie with about 4 minutes left. Dig it. Why not?
  • Ghost makes a nice block to prevent an empty-netter, which is the most exciting thing happening right now because the Flyers are generating nothing. Flyers call a timeout with 1:52 left.
  • The fans boo as the clock expires, and we all feel at home once again. Flyers lose by a score of 3-1. Ilya Samsonov was largely excellent in net for the Capitals, but the road team had a stranglehold on this one in the second and third periods, and when you win one period and the other team wins two you don’t usually win the game. So it goes.

Buffalo on Tuesday, then two more games against this same Caps team. Let’s all do better next time. Go Flyers.