Recap: Capitals defeat Flyers 5-2
The Metro Division leaders Washington Capitals took the ice on Thursday night and defeated the hometown Flyers 5-2, taking a 3-0 regular season lead against Philadelphia. Goals by Brett Connolly, Lars Eller, Tom Wilson, and Evgeny Kuznetsov propelled Washington to a key win, maintaining their lead as they try to stay ahead of the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Capitals scored first off the stick of Brett Connolly. Defenseman Michal Kempny threaded a gorgeous pass right to Connolly, who was parked on the goal line. An easy shot led to a Capitals lead. Pretty puck movement by the Capitals. Connolly builds on his career year, scoring his 18th of the year.
The Capitals added to their lead a few minutes later. Eller and Connolly teamed up for another goal. A Connolly shot from the left circle was partially blocked by a Flyers defender, but the puck rolled right to Eller, who tucked the puck into the net after collecting his own rebound off Flyer goalie Carter Hart’s pad.
The Capitals started the second period with a minute left on a penalty committed by Brooks Orpik. On a smart zone entry by Flyers defenseman Shane Gostisbehere, James van Riemsdyk walked in a released an absolute dart that beat Holtby high glove side.
After surviving a barrage by Philadelphia, Connolly blocked a point shot and took off on a quasi breakaway. Connolly feigned a pass and rocketed a shot that beat Hart top right to re-establish the Caps 2-1 lead. His 19th goal of the year. The Caps on the precipice of having six 20 goal scorers in Ovechkin (46), T.J. Oshie (21), Jakub Vrana (21), Connolly (19), Wilson (20), and Nick Backstrom (18).
One minute later, after a strong shift by the top line, Tom Wilson fired a shot from the middle of the dots that Hart had no chance of stopping. Assists from Kuznetsov and Orlov drew Hart too far out of his net, allowing Wilson to shoot at an open cage. The goal marks Wilson’s first career 20 goal season.
Scott Laughton brought the game within two after a weird bounce found his stick right in front of the net.
Caps tightened up their defensive and neutral zone coverage. Despite having to kill 3 penalties, the defense and especially Holtby, withstood a stronger 20 minutes from Philadelphia.
Kuznetsov scored the empty netter with 2:26 left in the 3rd to extend the lead to 3 goals and seal the win for Washington.
Great 8 thoughts…
- Strong game from the 3rd line. Eller-Connolly-Hagelin were all over the ice tonight. Connolly might have had his best game this season. Numerous opportunities to score his third, but a few awkward rolls or bounces kept the puck out of the net.
- Holtby looked very strong in net tonight. The defense in the first and second period was generally strong, but in the few times that coverage was blown, Holtby was there to make the stop.
- Ovechkin is still stuck at 46 goals on the year, but he had a very strong game tonight despite not scoring. His assist on Kuznetsov’s empty net goal gave him 79 points on the year. Ovi was also pretty active in the hit department, especially in the first period. His hit on Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov really kicked the Capitals into gear in my opinion.
- Orlov looked great tonight. Active in the offensive zone and created a bunch of scoring chances. If he keeps that up, he’ll certainly break the goal drought he’s been mired in.
- STOP TAKING PENALTIES. 3 bad bad penalties in the 3rd period nearly derailed a good effort by the Caps. If it weren’t for Holtby and the penalty killers kept this game out of reach for Philly. Orpik, Jensen, and Backstrom took the penalties, and while you could argue that some of the penalties were weak calls, the Caps need to be more disciplined.
- Carl Hagelin has been an absolute gem for the Capitals, and his promotion to the 3rd line has lifted that line from pretty solid to arguably the second best 3rd line in the league. Hags speed has changed the complexion of the 3rd line, and his ability to hound players on the forecheck and back check has been fascinating to watch.
- Seriously, Brian McClellan, if you’re reading this, please resign this guy.
- Andre Burakovsky’s season has been tumultuous to say the least, but his play since the trade deadline has been night and day. He’s been strong on the boards, active in the defensive zone and he looks to have regained the confidence we’ve been wanting him to capture.