Friday, February 01, 2013

Skid Stopped

Capitals 3, Flyers 2
Game Summary - Event Summary

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)
The Washington Capitals needed a good sixty minute effort after their two demoralizing losses. Blown leads into the third period against both Ottawa and Toronto made tonight's game against the Philadelphia Flyers an important game for the Capitals to find something to work on. Thanks to a couple of breakaways and two goals in the final frame, the Caps get their wish with a 3-2 win over the Flyers.

"We had a tough road trip," Caps forward Nick Backstrom said. "We played well against Ottawa and we had a lead there in the third period, same thing in Toronto. So, we really needed this one. Especially in the position that we are in, we need the points."

Backstrom got that "no goal" monkey off his back with a second period tally tonight. Eight games into the season and he finally has a goal. It happened at the right moment, with the Capitals already down 1-0. The Flyers made a horrendous line change and turned the puck over just inside the blue line. John Carlson snapped it up to an open Backstrom who streaked into the net and backhanded the shot past Ilya Bryzgalov. It tied the game late in the second and set up a better third period effort for the Capitals.

In the third, a break down in the defensive zone by the Flyers opened some passing lanes for the Capitals. With a good forecheck, the Caps were able to work the puck around to Troy Brouwer who sniped it at a sharp angle to the net past Bryzgalov. Wotjek Wolski scored his second tally of the year after some nice stick work around the defender to create his own break away and scored on a seeing-eye puck that dribbled past the Flyer net minder.

"We did really well in the neutral zone," Wolski said of the effort in the third period. "I think the last couple of games in the third period we seemed to break down and get away from what we want to be doing in the neutral zone. I think tonight we really stuck together."

The game was far from mistake free for the Capitals, but it was a much more solid effort overall. The Capitals did have a few hiccups along the way with penalties, but were able to kill them all off. Matt Hendricks was the only penalty faux pas of the night when he dropped mitts with Zac Rinaldo before the puck dropped at the end of the first period. He was assessed a game misconduct and it ended the night early for the Caps' forward.

John Erskine was involved in a bit of drama too. The Caps defender stuck out his elbow to catch Wayne Simmonds in the snoz. The hit will surely be reviewed by the league office. As for Simmonds, he did not return.

The revolving door for goaltending got interesting for the Caps after Neuvirth looked as if he wrangled the number one job away from Braden Holtby. But on a back to back night, Adam Oates put in Holtby and he did a fantastic job in net. Stopping 29 shots, including 13 in the second period, Holtby ate up outside shots and had better rebound control. It was good enough to earn him his first win of the season.

Special teams got a boost on the penalty kill, but the power play was a dismal 0 for 5. Including a sparkling 5 on 3 chance in the third period to take the lead. The PP is something of a work in progress. The in zone set up is good, but the entries are messy and inconsistent. If the Capitals lose control of the puck, it seems to take them awhile to get the puck back in the zone for the set up, if they can get in the zone to begin with.

"You’ve got to give [the Flyers] credit," Oates said of the lack of production on the PP. "They’re a good [penalty killing] team. Maybe we didn’t win enough battles."

Overall, this is more of a moral victory for the Capitals. It wasn't pretty at times, but they stuck to their system and squeezed out two points. There is plenty to work on for the Capitals. But time is a factor considering the Pittsburgh Penguins are in town on Superbowl Sunday. The afternoon game will be a short turn around for the Capitals who must be better in their own zone against a much more potent offense than the Flyers.

Caps Notes:
  • Nick Backstrom, Mike Ribeiro and Wojtek Wolski all had zero shots last night in Toronto. The three combined for 9 shots tonight and 3 points.
  • Troy Brouwer scored his third goal of the season, his second in the last three games. 
  • When the Capitals kill off all penalties they are a perfect 2-0-0. Which also means they are winless if the opposition does score with the extra man. 

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