Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Ugly Game

Capitals 5, Flyers 6 OT
Scoresheet - Post - Times

In a see-saw game with plenty of weird moments, the Capitals came up short against the Philadelphia Flyers. It was a game of anything goes as the two teams swapped goals and chances all game long. No one seemed to have the upper hand as the Flyers win in front of their own crowd and birthday boy Daniel Briere scored the game winner as the Caps fall 6-5 in overtime.

Alex Ovechkin added a pair of goals and an assist for his third straight three-point game to start the season. Alex Semin added another pair of goals including a beauty of move that undressed Braydon Coburn and beat Flyer goaltender Ray Emery. Brendan Morrison had a goal bounce in off of him to give the Caps the 5-4 lead in the third, but some defensive breakdowns lead to the Capitals' demise.

The game started with both teams playing it tight. The Flyers got into some penalty trouble early but the Caps were not able to capitalize. The period would end dead locked with no score. In the second, the Caps would get into some pretty heavy penalty trouble. They were called for six minors in the second frame. Whether they were deserved or not, the Caps could not hold back the Flyers power play for long. In fact, the Flyers first three goals were two power play goals and a goal scored on a delayed penalty.

Ovi would score goals 4 and 5 on the season to keep the Caps right in the hunt as both teams exchanged chances and goals. Semin broke the 2-2 tie with an highlight reel goal that left Coburn frozen before firing it through Emery. But the Flyers would come right back as Mike Richards shows why he wears the "C" for the Flyers netting two goals in 18 seconds to give the Flyers the lead right back. Richards makes Flyers history as the only Philly player to score a hattrick in the home opener.

Semin would tie the game at 4 apiece on the power play. The goal came off of a Nick Backstrom chip pass after the Flyers misplay the puck in front of Emery. Backstrom finished the night with 3 assists and make his eighth helper in the season thus far. Then the Caps took the lead again as Matt Bradley threw the puck to the net and the rebound deflected off of Brendan Morrison's body and into the net. The goal would go for review but ended up counting.

"I thought we were going to get out of here [with the win]," Caps' coach Bruce Boudreau said of the goal. "We were pretty determined to defend the lead. "

The Capitals couldn't defend the lead however. Tom Poti tried to clear a rebound from in front of Jose Theodore, but ended up hitting the goaltender with it instead and it bounced into the net. The Caps would get a late power play, but they were unable to score as the penalty carried over into the overtime period. The Flyers did what they did best, feed off their crowd and crash the net. The result is a game winner by the little guy and the Caps take away a point.

"I think tonight we [were] our worst enemy," Brendan Morrison summed up. "It's a game we should seal down and win with that much time left in the game."

Undisciplined play by the Capitals ended up costing them the game. They were called for nine minor penalties, six minors in the second period alone. The Flyers were 3 for 9 with the extra man, while the Caps were a mortal 1 for 5 on their power plays. The Caps just could not get into a rhythm as they marched in to the penalty box time after time.

"You take [nine] minors in a game, you are not going to win the game," Boudreau said. "Six penalties in one period, that is how you get four goals scored against you. It's unacceptable."

"Tonight was more penalties than anything," Brendan Morrison said. "We just couldn't stay out of the box." He continued, "We have to learn this lesson quickly if we want to be a great team, not just a good team."

Semyon Varlamov looked very much like a rookie goaltender tonight. To be fair, he was left to dry on a few Flyer chances, but as each goal went in he looked less sure of himself. He was pulled after the Flyers fourth goal, letting in four goals on 14 shots in the second period. Theodore came into the game and seemed to give the Caps some better balance in the second and third periods.

"Varly has got to be mentally tougher," Boudreau said of his young goaltender. "... They score in bunches on him. He can be fabulous for two periods then he gets scored on ... I think he gets down on himself."

Mike Knuble returned to Philly only to be left off the scoresheet and finished a -1.

"I had some butterflies before," Knuble said of his return. "But it was an interesting game, fun game to play in."

To pull some positives in the game, the Capitals do take one point for making it to overtime. Also the Caps battled back in the third to take the lead, but it was an unfortunate bounce that tied the game up and sent it to overtime. The Caps played much better 5 on 5 than the Flyers did. If they would have stayed out of the box, they could have spoiled the Flyers home opener. And the Caps did get good production from it's top line (4 g, 4a). This was a good effort in a tough arena to play in.

The Puckhead's Player of the Game was Nick Backstrom with his three assists on the night. For some reason, Backstrom loves to show up in games against the Flyers.

Caps come back to the phone booth to face the Rangers in their second home game on Thursday night.

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