Capitals 5, Flyers 3
Because of the tight schedule due to the upcoming Olympics, Bruce Boudreau admits he has not had the time to get to individual evaluations. But before facing the Philadelphia Flyers, he showed some tape to Brooks Laich. It made the Caps' bench boss a bit late to address media before the game but the one on one session seemed to awaken Laich's game, netting him a pair of goals and an assist as the Capitals defeat the Flyers 5-3.
Along with Laich's goals, Alex Ovechkin scored his first goal on a penalty shot. Previously he was 0-6 on penalty shots in his career. Alex Semin and Mike Knuble added goals for the Caps. The win gives the Caps the lead in the Eastern Conference, besting the New Jersey Devils by a single standings point.
The Caps got off to a slow start, as the Flyers looked to avenge an 8-2 drubbing the last time these two teams faced off. It looked as if Philly was determined to outwork the Capitals in their building. They took advantage of an early Caps' penalty and took the lead as Jeff Carter exploited the middle of the zone and snapped a wrister past Jose Theodore.
The home team would answer as Ovechkin dug the puck from the corner and dribbled it to the front of the net to a waiting Knuble. Knuble is riding a hot streak scoring six goals in his last six games, mostly of those coming off of an Ovechkin shot. The Flyers would answer back as rookie James Van Riemsdyk scored his eleventh from the high slot.
That is when Laich took his video session to heart as the coaching staff wanted him to crash the net more, move his feet and get into scrums and fight for the puck more. Laich scored in front of the net, kicking the loose puck from Ray Emery and scoring his twelve goal of the season.
Unlike the Capitals five minor penalties on the afternoon, the Flyers stayed disciplined, allowing only a holding minor from Carter in the second period. But it didn't take long for the Caps' power play to score, just 8 seconds in to their man advantage the Caps would score to take the lead. Mike Green would keep his point slapper low, allowing Laich to deflect it to an open Semin who had a wide open net to score on.
Laich would score his second goal of the game shorthanded after some sloppy passing by the Flyers in the neutral zone. He moved his feet and caught up to the puck, made his move on net by backhanding it top corner past Emery who was already down in his butterfly.
Ovechkin scored his thirtieth goal after he was slashed on a take-away for a break away and rewarded a penalty shot. He beared down on Emery and faked the wrister and went back hand beating the Flyer goaltender top shelf. The Flyers would get one back on a late power play, but it was too little, too late as the Caps would take the two standings points and the win from the Flyers.
The Caps have now won six of their last seven. They also have the least number of losses at home, proving the phone booth is a tough place to earn a win from visiting teams. Jose Theodore played okay, not great. But this team seems to be geared to a goaltender that can simply keep them in the game long enough for the offense to make a difference.
The Caps get a late start on practice tomorrow and face the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night.