Bad goaltending and a part of the game that can’t be found in the playoffs helped the Flyers fall 5-4 to the Caps tonight. Alexander Semin made Brian Boucher look silly in the final shot of the shootout to give Washington the extra point. Boucher played well on the night making thirteen saves on fourteen shots helping the Flyers comeback from a 3-0 deficit thanks to Sergei Bobrovsky’s wonderful night. The shootout loss drops the Flyers to 44-19-9 on the season.
Despite the Flyers absolutely dominating the first eight minutes of the game, the visiting Capitals gained the first lead of the game. Controlling the puck from the neutral zone, Nicklas Backstrom moved into the slot and let a wrist shot fly from the top of the circles. Initially blocking the shot, Sergei Bobrovsky allowed the puck to leak past the goal-line for a 1-0 Caps’ lead.
Less than a minute after the goal, Scott Hartnell was sent to the box for high-sticking. Seeming as though they just handed the momentum to Washington, a successful penalty kill resulted in a long powerplay chance of their own. Skating into the offensive zone, Claude Giroux was high-sticked by Alexander Semin. Worthy of a double minor, the Flyers saw a chance to tie the game.
Unable to tie the game, the Flyers saw their deficit increase later in the period. As Bobrovsky had no clue as to where the puck was, Jason Chimera stood behind the net and passed the puck to Mike Knuble, who was standing at the bottom of the circle to Bob’s left. Aware of the play developing, Sean O’Donnell attempted to stop Knuble’s shot by cross-checking him in the back. However, O’Donnell’s check came too late as a tumbling Knuble banked a shot in off of Bobrovsky’s behind and into the net for a 2-0 Caps’ lead with two minutes and fourteen seconds left in the first.
Starting off the second period right where the first period ended, Bobrovsky allowed in yet another soft goal. As the time was winding down on the powerplay, Dennis Wideman ripped a slap shot from the point that found its way through a gap formed by Bobrovsky’s right arm and hip. Allowing three goals on nine shots two minutes into the second period, Peter Laviolette decided he had seen enough as he sent in Brian Boucher to replace Bob.
Irritated with the undeserving score, the Flyers provided a strong enough forecheck to force Jay Beagle into a holding call. Yielding the usual result on a Flyers’ powerplay, no goals came from the man advantage.
Responding in a somewhat timely manner, Kris Versteeg banked in a shot off of Wideman’s skate to cut the deficit to two. Skating with his body opened towards the slot, Versteeg tried passing the puck to Andreas Nodl, who was fighting for position with Wideman in the slot. The pass never reached Nodl, but it did find the back of the net. Versteeg’s nineteenth on the year came just over eight minutes into the second period.
No team has an easy time overcoming a two-goal deficit starting the third period. Just before the second period ended, an absolutely gorgeous passing play reduced the Caps’ lead to one to start the third period giving the Flyers a legitimate chance of winning.
Fighting for the puck near the blue line, Nodl handled the puck before backhanding a pass to Braydon Coburn who was along the boards to Michal Neuvirth’s left. Receiving the puck back from Coburn, Nodl faked a slap shot passing it cross ice to Giroux in the process. As Neuvirth dropped to his knees and watched the whole play unfold without attempting to save the shot, Giroux ripped home his twenty-fourth of the season from the middle of the circle to Neuvirth’s right.
The late period goal seemed to give Philly the momentum while making the Washington lead surmontable.
Pressure upon pressure upon pressure finally resulted in the Flyers’ equalizing goal. After Giroux tipped a clearing attempt into the slot, Nodl slid passed the puck and notched a shot top right corner over Neuvirth’s blocker to tie the game. Nodl’s eleventh on the season tied the game up at three with ten minutes left in regulation.
Within five minutes of Nodl’s goal, Danny Briere placed an amazing redirection off a Kimmo Timonen shot from the point to give the Flyers a one-goal lead. After tapping the puck to Timonen at the point, Briere found his way to the goal-line and tipped the puck in with his backhand with just under six minutes left in regulation.
Two minutes and twenty-six seconds later, the Flyers handed the lead away as Marcus Johansson one-timed the puck past Boucher tying the game at four. The score remained tied at four as time in regulation ran out leading to the fourth straight meeting between these two teams that went past regulation.
Similar to the third period, the Flyers dominated the overtime period. However, they couldn’t find the game-winning goal leading to a shootout.
Leino opened the shootout by going forehand-backhand-forehand sliding the puck under Neuvirth’s right leg pad. The lead didn’t last long as Matt Hendricks deked Boucher into submission to tie it. Giroux was tripped by Neuvirth opening the door for Backstrom to take the lead, which he did. Briere kept the Flyers alive by slowing down while moving into the slot and putting it in on his backhand moving it past Neuvirth. However, Boucher got beat by Semin who, using the same move as Backstrom, went backhand and put the puck past Boucher.
Nodl, starting in his second straight game, played one hell of a game. Creating the deflection for Versteeg’s goal, handing Giroux an open net, and scoring the game-tying goal, Nodl kept the Flyers in the game when they could have easily just handed the win to Washington. Trying to earn a roster spot for the playoffs, Nodl showed the intensity and skill he can bring to the roster in crucial games.
Bobrovsky’s performance tonight provides a feeling of doubt as to how well he can perform in the playoffs. After displaying a great effort on Saturday night, Bobrovsky had an embarrassing six saves tonight. Lack of rebound control, lack of communication with defenders, and unable to locate the puck when its moving behind the net are some flaws the opposition can capitalize on in the playoffs.
Notes: Alex Ovechkin missed his first game all season tonight; The Caps are 9-5-1 without Ovechkin including tonight’s win. Including tonight’s shootout loss, the Flyers are 13-5-4 without Chris Pronger this season. All four meetings with the Caps this season went past regulation, two of which went to a shootout. The Flyers went 2-0-2 against the Capitals in the 2010-2011 regular season and are now 10-5-4 against the Southeast division on the season (WSH 2-0-2, TBL 1-3-0, CAR 3-1-0, ATL 1-0-2, FLA 3-1-0).