Flyers Fall Apart, Lose To Caps 5-2

Failing to tie the game at two after dominating the second period, the Flyers allowed three goals in a 2:30 minute span to start the third giving the Washington Capitals a 5-2 road win on Thursday night.

Alex Ovechkin was the first star of the game as he scored two goals on three shots. Roman Hamrlik and Joel Ward recorded their first goals as members of the Caps, while Tomas Vokoun stopped 40 saves as Washington increased their franchise-best start to 6-0-0.

Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier scored the goals for Philly, which got just 23 saves from Ilya Bryzgalov.

Although they looked slightly off their game and provided the opposition with several power-play opportunities, the Flyers still scored the first goal of the contest.

As Braydon Coburn sat in the box with a double minor for high-sticking and Ovechkin was in the box for interference, Wayne Simmonds was able to whack the puck off Alex Semin’s stick and into to center ice starting a breakaway for Giroux. While being hooked from behind, Giroux provided a beautiful backhand-forehand move to undress Vokoun and score his fifth goal of the season.

With less than two minutes left in the first period, the Caps struck twice to gain the lead. Mathieu Perreault scored off a horrendous Scott Hartnell turnover at 18:40 for a 1-1 tie, then Ovechkin put home a cross-crease pass by Nicklas Backstrom with just 12 seconds left in the period to hand Washington a 2-1 lead. Perreault’s goal was his first of the season and Ovechkin’s goal was his second of the season.

The second period saw relentless Flyers’ pressure in the Capitals’ zone. Philly wasn’t able to tie the game at two during the second period after they dictated play and out-shot the Capitals 14-10.

Entering the final 20 minutes, the Flyers were within reach to comeback and win the game. They needed a strong start to open the third period. What happened, however, were three quick tallies for the visitors.

Between the 2:23 mark and the 4:48 mark of the third period, a Hamrlik floater from the left point sailed through traffic, Ovechkin netted a power-play score through the screens from Max Talbot and Kimmo Timonen, and  Ward’s tip of a Jeff Schultz drive all eluded Bryzgalov to increase Washington’s lead to 5-1.

In the waning seconds of the game, Couturier found the back of the net for a pointless goal to cut the lead to three with only 15 seconds left in regulation.

As the remaining time ticked off the clock after Couturier’s goal, the Flyers found themselves on the wrong side of a 5-2 loss at home.

This game was a perfect example of how the final score doesn’t always illustrate what happened on the ice. The Caps won decisively, but the Flyers out shot the Caps for the second and third period as well as the game overall. Out-shot 14-10 in the second period and 17-7 for the third period, the Caps received some fortuitous results on average shots in a brief span during the third period to enlarge their lead to a point where Philly couldn’t expend enough energy to come back.

The immediate response after this game would be to blame Bryzgalov, who gave up five goals on 28 shots. In his defense, not all the goals were entirely his fault. Braydon Coburn accidentally deflected and slowed the first goal past Bryzgalov, the second goal was a loose puck that rolled through Andrej Meszaros’ legs in the crease, and all the third period tallies were through massive traffic or a result of a fluke misdirection. He made the saves he could, but unfortunately five shots off the Caps’ sticks were just too difficult to stop.

It’s always frustrating to lose, especially in the fashion the Flyers did tonight, but the Flyers have still looked good to this point in the season. Now at 4-1-1, the Flyers look forward to Saturday when they take on the St.Louis Blues at home.

Notes: This is the Flyers’ first regulation loss at home since Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals (7-3 loss to Boston)…This is the first time the Flyers have lost to the Caps in regulation since their 5-3 loss in Washington on January 17, 2010; their first regulation loss to Washington in Philly since December 5th, 2009…This was Ovechkin’s first two-goal game since March 9 against the Edmonton Oilers…Hamrlik notched his first goal since March 29 when he played for the Canadiens…Bryzgalov fell to 5-1-1 on the season with a save percentage of .905 and a GAA of 2.59.