After an early goal from Alex Ovechkin, the Flyers were able to rally back for a 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals in a shootout tonight at the Wells Fargo Center. The victory was the third of the season against the Caps and the Flyers’ fourth in a shootout.
Following the opening round of the shootout, where Matt Read and Matt Hendricks scored for their respective teams, Wayne Simmonds beat Braden Holtby glove-side on the Flyers’ fourth turn for the extra point. To close it out, Ilya Bryzgalov, who made 30 saves in the game, denied Troy Brouwer for his third shootout win in 2011-2012.
Bryzgalov, who nearly had another shutout, seems to have turned things around in the shootout and coach Peter Laviolette has taken notice.
“I think Bryz has done a tremendous job for us,” Laviolette said. “And I think shootouts is part of that. It goes back to that Calgary game (a 5-4 shootout win Feb. 25). He came up, we got big points out of there and from there he started to catch fire. There’s a tremendous amount of confidence right now in our goaltender. When your goaltender gives you that confidence, you feel like you can score goals, you feel like maybe you can take a few more chances. He played a great game. I think the shootout is another example of that. He made some big saves.”
The contest started off with a Caps’ goal almost immediately. A clear from the neutral zone forced Bryzgalov to direct the puck into the corner off his blocker. Taking control of the puck, Ovechkin bobbled the biscuit through Nicklas Grossmann’s legs to the crease. Trying to move the puck away from his net, Bryzgalov poke checked it towards the slot. Unfortunately, Ovechkin was right there to catch it and put it top-shelf over Bryz’s left shoulder for his 33rd of the season 26 seconds into the game.
The Flyers weren’t able to tie the contest in the opening period despite the fact the Orange and Black started to dominate late in the first. Fortunately for the Broad Street Bullies, Claude Giroux made it 1-1 a little over six minutes into the middle stanza.
Washington nearly made it a two-goal affair before a Jaromir Jagr outlet pass hit Giroux right in stride to spring the Flyers’ leader in points. With possession of the puck in the neutral zone, Giroux blew right by a stumbling Dennis Wideman before Holtby challenged Philly’s forward at the middle of the circles. After he pulled the puck back to elude Holtby’s swinging poke check, Giroux lofted a shot into the open net for his 27th tally of the season.
Minutes after Giroux’s equalizer, Matt Carle gave Marcus Johansson an opportunity to regain a one-goal lead for the Caps. After Philly’s defender took out Johansson’s legs on a breakaway, Washington’s forward fumbled the biscuit and fell to the ice on his awarded attempt before he could put a shot on Bryzgalov to leave the tilt tied at one.
Near the end of the second, Giroux was hit with a questionable interference call to put the Caps on their second power play of the game to close the middle period and start the final 20 minutes. As he stood still for several seconds behind Holtby’s cage, Giroux watched Keith Aucoin run into him, which led to the refs’ decision to put the Flyer in the sin bin.
Philly prevented the Caps from scoring on the man advantage, as the third period failed to produce a game-winning goal to send the game to overtime.
However, it is worth noting Read’s hit on Johansson in the neutral zone in the final minutes of the game. The Flyers’ rookie lined up the Caps’ forward and dropped him to the ice, as well as knocking off MoJo’s helmet in the process.
Following the scoreless overtime, where the Flyers decided to pass a few too many times rather than force Holtby to make several saves, the clubs went to a shootout.
After both Read and Hendricks scored, Giroux was next for Philly and failed to beat Holtby. The Flyers’ forward picked up the puck at center and moved in on Holtby quickly before he slowed down, as he eventually ran out of space and put a weak shot on net.
Ovechkin, Danny Briere, and Aucoin missed their chances to score, Simmonds scored to give Philadelphia the additional point.
The Broad Street Bullies’ next game is Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens at the Well.
Notes: The win improved the Flyers’ record to 3-1-0 against the Caps this season. It marks the first time the Flyers have won the season series against the Caps since the 2005-2006 season…Andreas Lilja had the secondary assist on Giroux’s goal for his fourth assist of the season. It’s his first since November 3rd ending a 31-game pointless drought…Ovechkin’s goal ended a 66:27 goalless drought for the Caps against Philly. It was also the fastest goal to be scored on the Flyers in any game so far this season…The Flyers improved to 3-1-0 against the Capitals and to 11-6-2 against the Southeast Division this season…The Flyers improved to 43-23-8. They were 45-19-10 after 74 games last season.