Just Enough; Flyers Squeak Past Caps, 5 - 4
The most dangerous lead in hockey? Well it has been catastrophic for the Flyers of late. They blow another two goal lead on Saturday but find just enough to pull out the win.
After blowing 3 different two goal leads on Thursday you felt the Flyers would walk into the phone booth and put on a gutsy performance. It looked to be just the opposite as the game got under way. The Capitals dominated the early part of the game. They looked to have a step on the reeling Flyers, winning board battles and several loose pucks. Luckily for the fly boys in the first, the only thing ringing more than those annoying cowbells were the pipes behind Boosh. It took a weird bounce for Washington to finally capitalize. 8 minutes into the first Marcus Johansson found a pinball in the slot and fired a quick wrist shot past Boucher. The onslaught would continue as Washington carried the play for most of the period. Luckily, it quickly became a game of frustration for Caps star winger Alex Ovechkin. He failed to capitalize on 2 breakaways, and couldn’t seem to hit the net on several occasions. The first ended with the score Washington 1 Flyers 0. Whew.
The second began much like the first. Washington’s power play was spending the entire time in the offensive zone. They failed to cash in yet again due to some stellar work by the man in the mask. The game finally seemed to even out and the Flyers found their legs midway through the second. After a mugging of Boucher by Brooks Laich, the Flyers found a spark. Pronger threw a wrist shot at the net and Giroux made a beautiful deflection to pot one past Neuvirth. Or at least it looked like a great deflection, but hey might as well be lucky and good, eh Claude? The second continued in the same see-saw like fashion. Eric Fehr took a run at Ville Leino with 15:43 gone, and got 2 for boarding. The power play looked unimpressive until the very end of the two minutes. For all intensive purposes Mike Richards’ blast into a yawning net was a power play goal. But it came just as the penalty expired. Carle threw a shot at the net and Hartnell spun a no look backhand pass right to a waiting Richie, slam dunk. I must say I was quite impressed with the skill from bird-dog. You tried that right Scottie? The period ended with the score 2-1 good guys.
To begin the third I couldn’t help but notice Bruce Boudreau whining like a school girl who just got broken up with on prom night. I guess he’s not happy with Washington being in the middle of the pack with 277 PIM’s. Hey at least it’s not 384 right Bruce? Anyway, there was still 20 minutes of hockey to play. The Capitals looked fresh in the third as they continued to pursue the puck well. Jeff Carter decided to take matters into his own hands and put on a beautiful display of stick handling. He made Mike Green look a bit silly (which I love to see) as he pulled the puck past him and fired his patented wrister through a screening Shelley and into the top shelf. 3-1, uh oh, a two goal lead. This one they let disappear faster than all three in the Tampa game, an amazing feat in itself. Backstrom chipped a bouncing puck past Boucher and energized the crowd. Before they even had a chance to stop blowing those damn horns or ringing their ridiculous cowbells they needed them again. Washington won the face off, set up shop, and Fehr blasted one past Boucher all before you could say here we go again. Much to the delight of Flyers fans the team responded. After a hard working shift with solid forechecking Andreas Nodl scored a highlight reel spin-o-rama goal. JVR got the well deserved assist. But, yet again careless stick penalties were an issue. Briere swung his stick wildly, while on the power play, and caught a caps player under the visor. A very ill-advised and untimely penalty for the Flyers. The subsequent 6 on 4, after the Caps pulled Neuvirth, proved to be too much for the orange and black to kill off. Eric Fehr smoked a one-timer past Boucher who had no chance as it beat him glove side. 4-4 and heading to OT, where the Caps were 4-1 and the Flyers 0-2.
The overtime seemed rather uneventful until Backstrom took an interference penalty. The Flyers had plenty of zone time on their 4 on 3 but failed to strike. The Capitals put on one of the best penalty kills this season allowing the man-up Flyers nothing. The OT ended where it began 4-4. Now to a shootout. The Flyers had plenty of shootout practice in the preseason but this was the first when it counts. Giroux went first and made a nifty shift to the backhand. Neuvirth stuck with him well and put it aside. Apparently, someone told Backstrom and Ovechkin that they should go glove side. But since we have the NHL equivalent of Gordon Bombay he told Julie the c….I mean Brian Boucher that they always go glove side and he turned them away. In between the two, Briere threw a nice little head fake on the Caps goalie and slid the puck five hole to make it 1-0 in the shootout. In the third and final attempt Semin made the deke and the shot only to be turned away by the game long nemesis of the Caps, old iron side. Saved by the post again.
Overall you can’t be disappointed with playing another semi poor game against Washington and escaping with points. This time it was with the coveted win. I’m sure 99 out of 100 of us would have taken a 5-4 shootout win over the best team in the east. However, those same 99 would have also expected the Caps to get no points with us up 2 goals so late. I can’t complain about a win, but I will say this, step it up D. We can’t afford to be blowing leads like this.
Off note; Nikolai Zherdev was demoted to the fourth line alongside Shelley and Betts. JVR was promoted to the first line with Richards and Nodl. He played a good game and continues to be snake bit as he hit another post Saturday. If he moves his feet and gets comfortable playing in front I’m sure he will turn into the power forward we all know he can be.
As always thanks to Mike and Tyler, and LET”S GO FLYERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!