Simmonds Hurt in Flyers’ Third Straight Loss

Image courtesy of Greg Fiume/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers dropped their third straight game on Friday night in Washington against the Capitals by the score of 3-2. Wojtek Wolski had the eventual game-winner for the Caps, while Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and an assist in the victory. Braden Holtby had 31 saves for Washington, as the only two Flyers to beat him on the night were Bruno Gervais and Brayden Schenn. Ilya Bryzgalov had yet another strong performance, but he suffered another loss, as he made 23 stops on the night.

The biggest incident in the loss for the Flyers was John Erskine’s hit on Wayne Simmonds in the first period. After Philly’s forward jumped on a loose puck in the defensive zone, he attempted to pass it to himself off the boards around Erskine. The Caps’ blue liner, who avoided the puck and went straight for Simmonds, threw a flying elbow directly into Simmonds’ face.

Since Simmonds didn’t expect the contact, the charging elbow took him by absolute surprise and dropped him to the ice. He left the game shortly after the hit. Not only did Erskine not receive a major for his charging elbow, he didn’t even receive a minor penalty. Erskine will without a doubt at least have a meeting with Brendan Shanahan if not a suspension.

“It looked dirty when I first saw it,” Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette said after the loss. ”A tough hit.”

General manager Paul Holmgren said Simmonds has a head injury and some whiplash going on, but nothing about a concussion.

The Capitals made Erskine unavailable to the media after the game.

Before the next faceoff, Zac Rinaldo and Matt Hendricks dropped the gloves. The Flyers’ forward didn’t look like he was an inch shorter or 42 pounds lighter than Hendricks, as he beat the Caps’ enforcer like a red-headed stepchild. The pair earned game misconducts, but Rinaldo swayed the momentum even further in Philly’s direction.

The cheap shot and beating came with under two minutes left in the first period. After they came out flat and were outshot by Washington 10-2 in the beginning of the game, the Flyers turned it around and entered the second period with the shot total even at 11.

The visitors struck first just over the halfway point of the game.

As the puck wrapped around the boards, Danny Briere caught it behind the cage and attempted a backhanded wrap-around shot. Briere had the puck separated from his stick just behind the goal line right next to the net, which resulted in the puck gliding through traffic into the middle of the crease. Since Gervais pinched on the play, the blue liner was in perfect position to slam home his first goal as a Flyer.

Just a second under six minutes later, Backstrom took advantage of a Flyers’ turnover and unfortunate line change.

Sean Couturier carried the puck through the neutral zone before John Carlson knocked the disc away and threw a pass to Backstrom a few feet in front of Philly’s blue line. With some of the Orange and Black’s skaters making their way to the bench, Backstrom walked in all alone on Bryzgalov. Backstrom switched the puck from his forehand to his backhand before he roofed a shot past Bryz’s glove to even the score at one with 2:18 left in the middle stanza.

It looked as though all the momentum had shifted to the Caps when the club was hit with a minor for too many men on the ice in the final minute of the period and a Kimmo Timonen cross-checking minor at the 20:00 mark to give Washington a 5-on-3 for 1:12 to start the final period.

Although the Flyers killed off the 5-on-3 and 5-on-4 scenarios, Troy Brouwer scored the go-ahead goal shortly afterwards.

After Backstrom found Mike Green at the point, the offensive d-man threw it to Brouwer at the bottom of the circle to Bryzgalov’s right. The former Chicago Blackhawk found some space between Bryz and the near post, as he launched a wrister that beat Philly’s goaltender high to put the Capitals up one with 16:03 left in regulation.

Less than three minutes later, another turnover put the Caps up by two.

Luke Schenn had trouble with a Claude Giroux faceoff win in the neutral zone before a surging Wolski poked it past Philly’s blue liner to start a breakaway. Wolski put a backhander on Bryzgalov that squeaked through the netminder and into the cage for the decisive goal.

Shortly after Wolski’s goal, Tomas Kundratek flipped the puck into the netting in the Caps’ zone for a trip to the penalty box. Although the Flyers didn’t score on the man advantage, they scored five seconds after Kundratek exited the box on a play that started on the power play.

Kurtis Foster received a pass at the point before he tossed the biscuit over to Matt Read at the top of the circle to Holtby’s right. Read slid to the faceoff dot before he let go of an attempt that clanked off of the near post and far post, which found Schenn’s stick in the crease. With Holtby on the other side of the net, Schenn had no problem putting home his first of the season to make it a one-goal game again with 9:30 left in regulation.

Immediately after the visitors’ tally, the Caps responded with some offensive pressure of their own and wasted several minutes in the Flyers’ zone to limit their chances of registering the equalizer.

Once the Flyers started to gain back some momentum, it was too late, as the Capitals escaped with the 3-2 victory.

“Obviously frustrating for a little bit now,” the younger Schenn said about the loss. “We just weren’t good enough, especially in the third period where it was 1-1. You have to learn how to win those hockey games and to give up two [goals], it’s obviously not what we were looking for. We did get a late one, but I still don’t think we were good as a team tonight.”

Philadelphia has no time to be upset, as they travel home to the Wells Fargo Center for a game against the Carolina Hurricanes later today.

Notes: This is the Flyers’ first loss at the Verizon Center since their 3-2 overtime loss on November 7th, 2010. It ends a three-game winning streak in Washington…Gervais scored his first goal since April 4th, 2012. He has one goal so far in six games with the Flyers, as he had six last season in 50 games last season for the Tampa Bay Lightning…Backstrom’s tally ended Bryzgalov’s shutout streak against the Capitals at 102:16. Alexander Ovechkin was the last Cap to beat Bryzgalov with his goal 26 seconds into the Flyers’ 2-1 shootout win on March 22nd, 2012…Timonen and Foster both led the team with four shots on net…The Flyers killed off all five of Washington’s power plays. It’s the second time this season they’ve been perfect on the pk, as they were 4-for-4 in their 4-1 win against Florida last Saturday. It’s the first time the Flyers have been perfect on the penalty kill in a game where they allowed at least five power plays since they went 5-for-5 against the Montreal Canadiens on March 24th…Brouwer recorded his first goal against Philly since Game 1 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, where he had two. It was Wolski’s first goal against the Flyers since he was a New York Ranger and opened the scoring in Philly’s 4-2 win at Madison Square Garden on February 20th, 2011…The Flyers are 0-1-0 against the Capitals in 2013 and 1-2-0 against the Southeast Division (TBL 0-1-0, WPG 0-0-0, CAR 0-0-0, WSH 0-1-0, FLA 1-0-0).