Game 1 - Capitals 5, Flyers 4 - WSH leads 1-0
Scoresheet - Wash Post - Wash Times - Philly.com
Were you worried? I wasn't worried. Not at all.
Okay, maybe I was. I was pulling my hair out jumping up and down about my house, upsetting the wife and reveling in one hell of a finish. The Capitals play one of their better first periods, then one of their worst second periods, only to finish with one of the most amazing third periods I have ever witnessed. This is not your father's NHL.
Alex Ovechkin scored his first NHL playoff goal, and it was a game winner to boot with 4 minutes left in the third. It capped a three goal rally to win Game 1. The Caps did give up three unanswered goals to the Flyers in the second. Mike Green was instrumental in the comeback netting a pair of goals, his first two of the playoffs and one on the power play. Dave Steckel added a rare tally from a grinding feed from Matt Bradley (who had two assists). And the Brash, Donald Brashear scores against his old team just three minutes into the game.
The Philadelphia Flyers have never lost a game this season taking a two goal lead into the third period. Ever. The Caps once again show their resiliency when all seemed lost when the Flyers.
The Capitals started strong with a rare goal from Donald Brashear who gathered a rebound shot from Tom Poti with his back hand and pulled it to his forehand to bury the puck high over an outstretched Marty Biron.
The checking line didn't stop there though as David Steckel scored his first NHL playoff goal after a dump and chase with Matt Bradley. As Brads was run into the boards by two Flyer defenders, he popped the puck behind him to a wide open Stecks who made no mistake putting a wrister past Biron's glove. Then the Caps just stop moving their feet as the second period wore on.
The Flyers took advantage of a team that looked a bit winded by the emotion of the opening period. Daniel "ice princess" Briere scored a pair and Vinny Prospal (remember him from the Lightning) both netted a pair and the Flyers suddenly found themselves with a two goal cushion by scoring three goals in less than 4 minutes, normally a game over situation for them this year. But this is the post season son, your funny numbers don't count for nuthin' here!
The Caps' legs seemed to have that jump back in them in the third and the building buzzed. You just knew something was going to give. Then Sergei Fedorov threw a nifty no look pass to a wide open Mike Green and he had his first NHL playoff goal and started the comeback. Then on the power play the Caps moved the puck expertly around and with a little more desperation. Ovie passed to Green on the point and he smoked a cannon of a shot past Biron to tie the score at 4. The Verizon Center was the loudest I have ever heard it, even when they secured the Southeast Division title a week before.
But there was still a buzz, the Caps kept the pressure on, the Flyers defenders looked for the first time shaken. Ovechkin was boxed in, held in check for most of the night. Then a Flyer mistake. What seemed a harmless shovel pass to a teammate turned to horror with Ovie zeroed in on the loose puck and waited for Biron to fall into his butterfly to go high over the Philly goaltender and the comeback was complete. Ovie once again lead his team to another victory.
Cris Huet looked shaky at times, especially in the second. It might have been that end of the rink, because Biron looked solid in the second after looking shaky himself in the first and third. Huet was due for a few shots past him, he had been playing so well up to that point. Huet did make some very key saves and the boys bailed him out. The Flyer goals were usually easy stops or him. But it all seemed a distant memory to Ovechkin's game winner.
The physical part of the game ratcheted up as well. I felt that Caps took it to the Flyers before they could take it to the Caps. Not only did Ovie through his weight around every chance he could, Matt Cooke was also a hitting force every time he took the ice. If there was a scrum, he was in the middle of it. Matt Bradley also had a monster hit at the end of the second. While it didn't lead to a scoring chance it was a preview of what the Capitals were going to bring in the third period.
This game had more drama that you can shake a stick at. But the next game should be even harder for the Caps. The Flyers were on a mission to take a game in D.C. and I don't expect that plan to waiver in game two on Sunday. Whatever momentum the Caps had at the end of the season was suspended for the second period, but they must build upon the new momentum they have built up for themselves.
If this is game 1 is like, I can't wait for what's in store for game 2.